Celebrating Minimalist Design
Minimalissimo magazine is an exploration and celebration of minimalism which aims to inspire creatives and showcases the best in the field of design. Touching on many areas — including art, architecture, fashion, furniture and product design — the beautiful print magazine was established out of an online blog. Kwaleö speaks to Berlin-based Contributing Editor Jana Ahrens about Minimalissimo’s philosophy, their international flair (with editors working from their own remote offices across the globe) and her own personal lifestyle.
Kwaleö: How did Minimalissimo come into being?
Jana Ahrens: Minimalissimo was established by two Dutch designers, Maarten P. Kappert and Stan Grootes, in 2009. Originally created as a blog platform for sharing their favourite minimalist designs with a brief introduction to each piece, the site quickly grew in popularity, and so did the number of contributors. It then evolved editorially, with more considered but still concise articles to accompany the beautiful imagery.
Kwaleö: What’s the editors’ background?
Jana: Our editors come from professions like architecture, brand building, illustration, fashion and — of course — writing. Basically, everyone covers the field of minimalism they are trained in and which they are most passionate about. We are a pretty international crowd: from Brazil to the UK and Germany to the USA, we all work remotely from our own offices and homes. It’s very convenient most of the time, and even when it isn’t, it’s our love for Minimalissimo which ensures our workflow.
Kwaleö: What is so compelling about the concept of minimalism today?
Jana: For me personally, it’s all about bonding with the things you own. Carefully decluttering my style and method of consumption means to me that I’ll take care of the objects around me, which makes me fall in love with them over time. This bond to the things surrounding me is much more valuable than hunting for any kind of status or trend.
From the customer's perspective in general, I think it’s very much about a new form of scarcity. If you are in the comfortable position to be able to access and buy anything at any given time, it is a new kind of luxury to focus on what’s most important to you — or to first dig deeply into a specific topic and to know everything about it, before making the decision to purchase. Both aspects, sooner or later, clear the way for minimalism.
Kwaleö: Where do you find the ideas for your stories?
Jana: Sometimes I come across brands and ideas that I’d like to portray while working on other projects in a similar realm. I might find interesting shops or labels while travelling or browsing the web. Additionally, Minimalissimo has a pretty far reach by now and press or PR teams approach our editor-in-chief and creative director with enquiries. These enquiries are carefully surveyed and if they match one of our styles, they’re distributed among the team.
Kwaleö: Who is your typical reader?
Jana: Our typical readers are curious, well educated in design and the arts, as well as quite conscious about their purchase decisions. They expect a high visual standard through research. We have a pretty equal balance of people who identify as female and male. Most of them are somewhere in their 20s or 30s. Minimalissimo is read all over the world, but most frequently accessed through the USA, UK and Germany.
Kwaleö: What’s next for Minimalissimo?
Jana: We are just working on our second print edition. I can’t really reveal much at this point but I know enough to claim that it’s going to be different to the first one and absolutely awesome! We're aiming to print Minimalissimo Nº2 by mid-November this year. At the same time, we are looking to introduce more interview pieces with designers to the site over the coming months.
Kwaleö: Some quick questions… Which song is currently playing in your studio?
Jana: I can only speak for myself, as we work remotely. But right now, with autumn weighing down Berlin, I’m going back to my favourite office and travel album: Summvs by Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto. Sometimes on repeat in between is Signal by S O H N.
Kwaleö: Which exhibition did you last see?
Jana: Oh dear, I have to be honest, it’s been a while. But as soon as I find the time, I want to see the exhibition on the godmother of modern dance theatre, Pina Bausch, at Gropiusbau. She once said, “I’m not so much interested in how people move but much more in what moves them.” I love that so much and I think it’s another aspect of minimalism. It’s important that a design conveys why it is done in the way how it is done.
Kwaleö: What’s your next travel destination?
Jana: If everything works out perfectly, I’m going to fly to Iceand to finally see the aurora borealis. It can only be a short trip, but it would be a dream come true.
Kwaleö: What’s your current favourite social media account?
Jana: I’m mainly interested in Instagram right now. I constantly check the feed of design studio We Are Fellows, as well as photographer Paul Jung.
Kwaleö: What’s your favourite item on Kwaleo? (other than Minimalissimo, of course! )
Jana: Our office community is just renovating the premises for winter. We want it clean but cosy. So I’ve been hovering around the black A Stool By Alex to improve our meeting corner.
- Laurent Faboumy