Striking a balance between simplicity and intricacy, husband and wife design duo John and Svetlana (Lana) Briscella seamlessly merge their talents in Aminimal, a multifaceted studio that pushes the dimensions of industrial design. Aptly named, Aminimal aims to artfully spin the belief that minimal design comes from constrained concepts. “Aminimal has the word minimal inside but reads atypical, like something different,” Lana explains. Aminimal’s name is also often misconstrued as the word “animal”, a slip that the duo creatively embraces and occasionally integrates into their designs.
After meeting in Vienna, John and Lana set up shop in New York in 2011. Based in Brooklyn, the duo’s designs have an abstract, urbanist appeal. Culling from their travels and dwellings in various cities as well as from John’s academic background in Urban Strategies, Aminimal draws from the grid-like patterns of metropolitan spaces to create customized map mementos. Turning a memorable meeting place into commemorative and, in the case of the NYC Cork Board, functional art pieces, Aminimal celebrates “an emotional connection to the city.”
The couple spent time in Paris before landing in the States, and paying homage to their former haunt, Aminimal tested the limitations of dimensionality by re-interpreting the Louis XIV Ghost Armchair by designer Philippe Starck as a 3D cutout shroud of a map of Paris. Matching conceptual forwardness with technical precision, Aminimal uses a variety of tools. However, they cite their best tool as the “connection between our heart, brain and eyes.”
Initially exploring the energy of intersecting points through lamp designs—namely the polygonal-shaped Contact Window Lighting System—Aminimal added anatomy to the equation with its jewelry line, the Field Test Collection, which is “designed around the premise of structures found in magnetic fields.” The couple also created the Second Skin Watch, which swaps numbers for LED lights. The timepiece answers the age-old design challenge to “make a watch that’s not a watch”, presenting a futuristic study of the human hand’s natural contours, modeled after the flow of pouring water.
Aminimal’s innovative Calibration Stool and its Lounge counterpart, respectively evocative of a porcupine and spiny caterpillar, are made up of multiple wooden legs to create what they call a “3D rocking chair”. Bucking the notion that people remain creatures of habit, the Calibration Stool enables a person to move into a variety of seated positions by pivoting their weight against the numerous leg options.
Inspired by nature, Aminimal also turns to geometric formations. “In industrial design, you look for a line,” says John. “You’re looking to re-purpose analogies in your design. What I was looking for was, ‘What is the negative and positive of points and what is the reaction that causes the relationship?'”