APRIL 2014 - The General Aesthete

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Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Built as a private training center, Hostel in Kyonan, located in the Chiba prefecture of Japan, is a complex designed by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects. The compound consists of five buildings: three containing communal facilities such as dining and tatami rooms, the other two with internally stacked guest accommodations.

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects The radial arrangement of units allows for views of Tokyo Bay from each. 

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura ArchitectsThe client’s request for a design based around the possibility of future relocation or addition, resulted in the unit’s dimensions being the size of a standard freight truck, ensuring transportability.

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura ArchitectsAn interior clad in unfinished wood, outfitted with just the necessities, makes for a minimalist, snug stay.

More at: Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects
Photos: Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Pillow by Snarkitecture

Pillow by Snarkitecture

Pillow by Snarkitecture

What appears to be a soft, phone-sized pillow, is actually a hand-cast gypsum cement sculpture that serves as an artfully minimalist resting place for your iPhone. Thoughtfully designed with a niche on the underside to accomodate the phone’s cable, Pillow comes from Brooklyn-based collaborative Snarkitecture.

$68, available at Snarkitecture

Capturing the Swedish West Coast with L:a Bruket

L:a Bruket Products
I’ll admit that I was first drawn to L:a Bruket by their unmistakably Scandinavian packaging (nominated for The Swedish Design Award in 2012). I kept seeing photos of the line, but never ran into it here in the States. Finally, I got my hands on a good selection, and looks aside, could not be more pleased with the products.

L:a Bruket is produced in the town of Varberg, on the west coast of Sweden. Sourcing local, raw, and organic materials for their formulations, the small company takes no interest in trends of the beauty industry as a whole, avoiding chemicals or filler at all costs; this rustic but modern approach results in a decidedly Swedish, simple-but-effective line.

L:a Bruket SeaweedPerhaps L:a Bruket’s most interesting product is not so much a “product” at all, but Tångbad: dried, hand-harvested Swedish seaweed. Because this variety, Fucus Serratus, lives by filtering the ocean for nutrients, it amasses large quantities of vitamins and minerals. Possessing many health benefits, including circulation improvement and muscle relaxation, as well as antioxidant compounds that help with the signs of aging and treatment to skin irritation, the seaweed helps to recreate a restorative dip in the coastal waters of Sweden, especially when combined with L:a Bruket’s minimalist white envelope of Havssalt.

Like many of its other exports, Sweden excels in the grooming department (think Sachajuan, Verso, Byredo) but perhaps what L:a Bruket demonstrates so beautifully is that simplicity is the premier luxury.

More at: L:a Bruket

Wing Photographs by Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Without more information, the subject of this series of photographs by Linden Gledhill appears unidentifiable: complex metallic patterning and petal-like structure. Amazingly, the trained biochemist has captured the unique and endlessly fascinating details of butterfly and moth wings with macro photography; these very-close shots reveal the intricate, fragile patterns of the insect’s surface scales. With a remarkable range of color and texture, the images are not only inspiring, but eye-opening to the symmetry and otherworldly details of nature we might otherwise take for granted.

More at: Linden Gledhill

Men’s Sandals: Not a Problem

Men's Sandals

The subject of men’s sandals is, unreasonably, a controversial one. There is the school of “NO,” and also the trend-obsessed that build their collection around each year’s round of flashy, over-the-top status sandals. It is strange that there is so much taboo about a man in open shoes; the sandal is not a modern invention, we know enough from history (and, well, “historic” films) to be sure of that, yet somehow the flimsy flip-flop has become an American standard. It doesn’t help that the ubiquitous sandal primers of men’s magazines seem to be more filler and “the latest” than guiding. As it turns out, the sandal game is much easier than we’re led to believe.

This is not a discussion of open shoes as a whole, not the post-surf appropriate flip-flop or gym shower slides, but a beautifully crafted sandal that can comfortably work casually or dressed up. And as fine materials don’t always make for inexpensive (a reminder to check the racks come end-of-season), it is smart to invest judiciously. Perhaps the most important note in selecting the right design is to err on the side of classic, not necessarily a matter of being safe, but considering the life of the shoes. There are modernized, minimized, and amped-up versions of time honored designs that will be as valuable in your wardrobe a few summers later, and this consideration of amortization and enduring style should be prioritized.

A trend in 2014 Spring collections was leather-strapped fisherman sandals, a classic style that doesn’t overdo it; a great thing about a solid design like this is that you can accommodate trends around it (see Carven’s SS14 presentation: a palette-concious, 1940s sock and Greek sandal look).

Men's SandalsSpring 2014 looks at Christophe Lemaire and Carven.

The bottom line is to tread carefully, but not to be scared. It may be a luxury to have other options in the closet, but just like snow boots, you only really need one first-rate pair.

Above, six picks that will live as warm-season staples for some time: 1. Jimmy Choo Hayman, $595; 2. Lanvin, $540; 3. Carven X Ancient Greek Sandals Cleon $364; 4. Givenchy, $690; 5. Marni, $660; 6. Costume National, $795

Omizubata N House by Iida Archiship Studio

Innovative Japanese architecture firm Iida Archiship Studio has built a strong reputation with modernist structures that are thoughtfully responsive to their surroundings. This example, the Omizubata N House, set within the forested town of Kauizawa, is a weekend retreat that, like Iida’s other work, gracefully balances elegance and minimalism, while taking its immediate environment into serious consideration.

Omizubata N HouseStacked concrete columns support an exaggerated, dissymmetrical roof that extends to create a wraparound veranda and significant outdoor space at the structure’s front. The house’s open-to-nature design is obvious, while still maintaining a good sense of order and just enough transparency.

Omizubata N House

Omizubata N HouseInside, the gabled-roof design allows for a double-height ceiling, as well as a lofted study.

Omizubata N HouseWood-clad finishing both references and communicates with the forested environment.

Omizubata N House

More at: Iida Archiship Studio
Photos: Iida Archiship Studio