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Simple art or artfully simple?

Posted in Style & Travel, and Things We Love

SAMO - Jean-Michel Basquiat
SAMO – Jean-Michel Basquiat

sofagirl: I love Naïve art – a style which is often characterised by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique. In reality – it’s anything but simple – often tackling difficult themes, straddling change and fury and depicting darkness. And the technique is often as complex as any classic master.

I can stand in the great galleries of the world – and not hear a whisper. The perfectly rendered people or landscapes don’t move me. But put me in a room with Epstein, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Johns or Twombley and what I see roars in my ears.

But my first love – and will be forever love – and a love I would invest a fortune in if I had it – would be Basquiat. He speaks straight to my heart.

I have a poster of his painting SAMO. It has accompanied me around the world – and resided in my office or home with me for 20 years. This piece is like a song by Billie Holiday, or a Miles Davis composition. It keeps revealing itself. It’s never the same twice. And it wows me every day.

The Shard next to Tower Bridge in London
The Shard next to Tower Bridge in London

camparigirl: I have had a crush on Renzo Piano for a long time. Yes, you know who he is, even if his name might not be immediately familiar to your ears. You might have visited the Centre Pompidou in Paris, or walked by the Shard in London or, if you live in New York, passed the New York Times Building. In LA, I often admire works in the airy LACMA wing Mr. Piano designed. But his buildings are too numerous to list.

When I think of simplicity in design and architecture, it’s Renzo Piano’s structures that immediately come to mind. There is probably nothing simple in building them but the end results of clean shapes that often blend with the surrounding nature, are sublimely harmonious. Even experimental and daring works such as the Centre Pompidou feel like they have always belonged in their spaces. There is no Paris without the Pompidou.

copyright Renzo Piano
copyright Renzo Piano

Recently, Mr. Piano, a Pritzker-prize winning architect, unveiled a project called Diogene, probably the smallest and most self-sufficient house ever conceived. Diogenes was a Greek philosopher said to live in a barrel and the 7.5 sq m house is not much bigger than a barrel. Mr. Piano, 75, was always fascinated by the concept of the minimum space a human being can live in: Diogene is an aluminum and wood house with two rainwater tanks attached to a boiler, a composting toilet, perfect insulation and electricity supplied by rechargeable batteries. Inside, there is a pullout sofa, a tiny bathroom, a kitchen and a table/desk.

Here is the inside - copyright Renzo Piano
Here is the inside – copyright Renzo Piano

The furniture company which will be manufacturing Diogene, Vitra, envisages the tiny house to be used as a week-end hangout, or for a bunch of them to be grouped together to create small hotel rooms. Estimated price for the height of simplicity? $45,000.

For more information vitra.com

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7 Comments

  1. silvia
    silvia

    And you know what inspired him for Diogene? His greatest passion, sailing and in particular sail boats.

    July 26, 2013
    |Reply
    • Interesting! Here is something Renzo and I don’t have in common: sailing….

      July 26, 2013
      |Reply
  2. Have you seen Piano’s Parco della Musica in Rome? I think it’s so striking.

    He’s one of my favorite architects as well.

    July 26, 2013
    |Reply
    • sofagirl and I were in Rome last July but it was so bloody hot we didn’t make it to a few sights, like Parco della Musica and Maxxi. I know I know but we opted for our airconditioned apartment and Campari instead. Good thing is, Campari and Sofa was born of that heatwave!

      July 26, 2013
      |Reply
  3. I`m with Brenda on the Aboriginal art. I`d like to get Miles Davis-or jazz in general but I just can`t. Minimalism, now that I love. I believe we`ve made our lives unnecessarily complicated -well, those of us who are lucky enough to have too much-to make us miserable. I`d need bookshelves in there too though. Lots of.

    Love, love, love the double post.

    July 26, 2013
    |Reply
    • Thank you! Every time we do double posts we are reminded of what draws us together but also of some striking differences in our personalities.

      July 26, 2013
      |Reply
  4. I love Aboriginal art with its natural colours and intricate arrangement of dots, pattern and shape.

    Sent by Brenda Kimmins

    July 25, 2013
    |Reply

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