Born from earth

Beneath the vast skies and against the backdrop of the rugged Atlas Mountains, not far from the heart of Marrakech, emerges Villa D – a testament to the symbiosis of nature and architecture created by Studio KO. Surrounded by an oasis of palm trees and embraced by the land’s rugged beauty, its humble earth-formed silhouette merges with the landscape. It stands simultaneously as a custodian of heritage and a symbol of progress.

Constructed with reverence for the land it sits upon, Villa D rises from the soil, an embodiment of ecological integrity and architectural purity. Utilising adobe and the ancient technique of rammed earth, Studio KO has crafted a dwelling that is an uncompromising homage to the methods of Moroccan craftsmanship. The walls of Villa D, alive with the hues of earth, capture the light’s ever-changing dance. At dusk, the villa’s colours deepen and its walls come alive with a soft radiance that envelops the space in a light that whispers of the mystical.

Sculpted from the very soil beneath them, both Villa D and the Nagori collection by Studio KO for Domani represent a return to the elemental. This shared essence of earthiness, crafted by artisan hands, speaks to a deeper connection between dwelling and object, both drawn from the same source, each telling a story of material, man and the passage of time.

When nature sets the stage

Beneath the serene rolling wooded landscape of Zovencedo, near the Italian city of Vicenza, lies Cava Arcari: a harmonious blend of historical esteem and contemporary ingenuity. This extraordinary project, led by David Chipperfield Architects in collaboration with Laboratorio Morseletto, reimagines the ancient Arcari quarries, once a rich source of warm-white Pietra di Vicenza limestone, as an enchanting performance space.

This architectural venture breaks new ground, rooted in a strong collaboration between the architect and skilled Veneto stone artisans. At the heart of Chipperfield’s design is a minimalist approach, remarkable for its use of a single material: white Vicenza stone. This stone forms the entirety of the new structures – platforms, steps and ramps – all inspired by Swiss architect and stage designer Adolphe Appia’s innovative theatrical stages from the early 20th century. This singular material choice links the new performance areas with the cave’s original architecture. The newly added sections mimic the tiers found in ancient Roman theatres, symbolising both the functionality and artistic expression within the space.

In this context, Domani’s functional artistry exemplifies the strength of a clear vision realised through the masterful use of material. It highlights an aesthetic that cherishes the essentials – simplicity and longevity – rooted in design.

Emotional evocation

The corten steel collection of planters was captured at the Bologna Shoah Memorial, designed by Rome-based SET Architects, which commemorates the Jewish prisoners deported from Bologna’s train station.

The potent piece of architecture is the result of a competition in which Onorato di Manno and Andrea Tanci, two young architecture students, saw the chance to join forces to develop and express their architectural ideas. As a result of their having been entrusted with the design and construction of the monument, the pair formed their own firm a year later.

A subtle and wondrous aspect of the monument is the choice of material, also present in Domani’s Hagane collection, which naturally takes on a rust patina as it weathers, displaying the vestiges of time as it slowly corrodes. A blank canvas for the elements, as it were.

In perfect harmony

Seemingly ascending from the melancholic marshlands and soft billowy dunes of the Wadden Sea National Park, a 500-kilometrelong Danish coastal area formed by the ice age some 12,000 years ago, is a building so intertwined with the landscape that it is hard to imagine one without the other.

The Wadden Sea Centre, the gateway for visitors wishing to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the Wadden Sea National Park, is a prime example of Danish architect Dorte Mandrup’s ability to root her works in the local surroundings and natural sceneries while adding a profoundly artistic, forwardlooking element to them. The asymmetrical thatched roofs and facades, built using local building traditions, draw upon the layout of traditional four-winged farmhouses and utilise locally sourced construction materials. The line that forms the top of the roof lies in perfect parallel with the North Sea’s infinite horizon.

Using materiality and form to tell a story, convey a feeling and create awareness, as Mandrup so cleverly does through the Wadden Sea Centre, is a practice that Domani’s artists have also employed in their works for nearly 30 years. It remains at the heart of what we stand for.

The poetry of details

Looking out from beneath the imposing colonnades on the northern edge of Piazza San Marco in Venice is the 1958 Olivetti Showroom. A masterpiece of 20th-century architecture, it was commissioned to showcase the Italian technology manufacturer’s cutting-edge products, but most importantly, to demonstrate Italian architect Carlo Scarpa’s exceptional talent.

Born in Venice, Scarpa’s attention to detail, appreciation of craft and instinctive approach to materials are nearly unmatched in contemporary architecture. A main feature of the showroom is the central staircase that was created using cantilevered offset slabs of marble that seemingly hang in the air. The hand-cut square glass mosaic of the showroom’s floor was Scarpa’s homage to Murano, where he had previously been director of the Venini glassworks.

Scarpa always enjoyed working closely with craftsmen and took deep pleasure in the two-way design process. His architecture, a delicate yet striking combination of modernism, historicism and craftsmanship, is as relevant today as it ever was.

Traditional modernism

Just like the pure and natural characteristics of the wines produced at Valke Vleug, the architecture of the Vincent Van Duysen-designed winery stays true to its local terroir.

Van Duysen, who always seeks to reduce his work to its true essence, approached the former asparagus farm by reinterpreting the archetypal Flemish farmhouse in a modern way. Mirroring the linear planting of grapevines and the landscape of the Puurs municipality, Van Duysen’s signature simple and sparse geometries of form shape the low-slung building that houses the tasting room and production facilities. A black, vertical volume – a dwelling for the winemaker and his family – breaks the strong horizontal lines of the winery.

The seductive play of light, volumes and textures that together create that intuitive flow Van Duysen’s work is known for is based on a deep respect for tradition, setting and context. As the saying goes: to know your future, you must know your past.

Suspended in time

Sitting on the foothills of the Atlas Mountains – known by the Berbers as Idraren Draren, Mountains of Mountains – Villa E seems to rise up from the landscape, like a solid form that strikingly protrudes from the rust-red soil.

Here, architects Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty of Studio KO weave together Western minimalist architecture with Eastern building techniques and earthy textures in a house devoid of trends and styles. In fact, the duo avoids the word ‘style’, instead defining their work as an attitude. Respecting the landscape, culture and history of the site, they observe, listen in and try to understand the context before acting. As architecture inevitably makes an imprint in the landscape, how it is done is key to Studio KO.

Just as the ancient mountain range was sculpted by erosion over time, Villa E bears the mark of time. Gathering each locally sourced Oika stone, before transporting it by donkey to the site, cutting it and then setting it in place is a work of true craftsmanship and patience. This is where we feel the strongest kinship with the project – Domani’s pots and planters, much like Villa E, proudly display the passage of the hands that built it.

Transcending zeitgeist

From an early age, young Dutchman Hans van der Laan’s life was guided by one main question: ‘How can I know things as they are?’. After dropping out of his studies in architecture at TU Delft, he joined a Benedictine monastery at the age of 23. Naturally, this gave Van der Laan plenty of time for contemplation, but also time to practically test the architectural theory he developed in his life’s work – four convents and a house. His proportional system, a basis of order and symmetry from which he envisioned an architect could design regardless of any zeitgeist, still resonates with architects around the world.

The St. Benedictusberg Abbey near the Dutch town of Vaals, where Van der Laan resided until his death in 1991, is possibly the architect-monk’s most prominent work. Often described as a piece of sensory architecture, he believed in creating an atmosphere in which experience is central. As a ‘modern primitive’, which author Richard Padovan also named the biography on the late architect, Van der Laan often chose to work with brick, timber and other readily available Dutch building materials.

Van der Laan’s quest for an aesthetic language goes beyond an era or style, and the idea of using proportion to create timeless work is one that resonates with us and that we strive for in our own pieces. Choosing rough materials with an absence of decoration, and relying on proportion and light to work wonders, is something we hope Van der Laan would have approved of.

Mastering minimalism

The 1991 Neuendorf House, British minimalist maestro John Pawson’s very first house project which he created with Italian architect Claudio Silvestrin, is a study in subtracting to achieve excellence.

A narrow and perfectly straight 110-meter-long stone path runs through an almond grove, leading up to a villa that stands like a strong medieval castle in the rugged Majorcan landscape. The towering pink-orange walls are split open by a slender vertical entrance slit, followed by an enclosed courtyard featuring a lengthy limestone bench, set low to the ground. Inside, the spacious home unfolds in a series of labyrinthine corridors and rooms, which makes exploring the house feel like stepping into a minimalist geometric art installation.

For some, minimalism might seem like an easy way out. But for us, focusing on the essential is an act of courage. This is an idea we know well, as every shape, finish and colour in Domani’s line of products is constantly re-evaluated. In minimalism, that which is left is bare for close scrutiny. And it has to be strong enough to speak for itself, in all its simplicity.

Under the surface

At first glance, not much is seen of the crematorium as one gazes out over the Hoog Kortrijk landscape towards the distant valley. With only a meter-high wall visible above the ground, the rest of the building folds into the landscape with concrete plateaus that slip into the slope, and is covered by a green roof. ‘Uitzicht’ is Flemish for view or hope.

In 2005, when the Flemish authorities set out in search for an architect to construct a new crematorium in an existing cemetery, the commission went to Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura and local interdisciplinary studio SumProjects. Souto de Moura, who was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2011, is known for creating work that, “like poetry, is able to communicate emotionally to those who take the time to listen”. Sober and righteous, the crematorium offers a dignified farewell to the deceased.

Souto de Moura’s fascination by the beauty and authenticity of materials and his ability to combine them to create expressive entities inspires us. Artist Pedro Cabrita Reis’s piece ‘Looking in Silence’, displayed in the submerged courtyard, is a bittersweet reminder that everything is transient.

Space artistry

Belgian architect Hans Verstuyft approaches each project with an open mind and an experimental perspective. His work seeks to enable a new way of life, rather than providing a simple rational solution to a spatial issue. As a ‘space artist’, as his clients sometimes call him, Verstuyft uses a signature palette of natural materials to instill warmth, comfort and personal touch to his soft, minimalistic spaces.

At Verstuyft’s own home and office, housed in a 1966 office building in the centre of Antwerp, his eagerness to experiment has resulted in a duplex penthouse that feels anything but corporate. The flood of natural light, which Verstuyft agrees is a key element of his signature style, was achieved by adding an open-air courtyard, encompassed by full-height bronze-anodised aluminium windows on both floors. In its centre, a tall 35-year-old Persian ironwood tree adds an organic feel to the space.

The penthouse, featuring lime-washed walls, sandstone shelves, walnut wood furniture and brass detailing, serves as the perfect backdrop for Domani’s pots and planters. The space reflects our passion for natural materials that age gracefully.