Arts & Science: Luxury as Simplicity

by Maxwell Tielman

Of the many shops the Design*Sponge team visited during our recent trip to the Hamptons, one of my personal favorites was Tiina The Store. Founded by the Finnish-born Tiina Laakkonen in 2012, the tiny Amagansett shop features luxurious, beautiful objects that speak to its owner’s origins and Scandinavian aesthetic. After spending a portion of last summer exploring Sweden and Finland, I’ve been mad about the region’s warm yet minimal style, so it was with great enthusiasm that I fawned over the Iittala and Marimekko wares on sale in the shop. Before heading out, though, the shopkeeper drew my attention to a brand that I was not so familiar with— the Japanese-based Arts & Science.

Although, geographically speaking, Scandinavia and Japan are vastly separated, the two regions’ aesthetic traditions are deeply rooted philosophically. Both countries share traditions of quality materials and expert craftsmanship that date back centuries. Their aesthetic traditions also display an interest in simplicity and the idea of using simplicity to further enhance an object’s craftsmanship. With the recent craze for pared-down, natural designs, it’s no wonder that Scandinavia and Japan are experiencing quite the moment in the international design world.

Arts & Science, based in Tokyo and created by the creative director Sonya Park, is founded upon the principle that by beginning with quality, objects will only get better with time. As such, the items within Ms. Park’s collections of fashion and housewares are minimal, but also incredibly human. Featuring natural materials like linen and leather, they are built to last, their only ornamentation being the signs of age that they proudly wear over time. In addition to the company’s line of clothing, Arts & Science also features a number of charming household novelties, from candles and pinhole cameras to cloth flowers and one of the most beautiful day planners you’ll ever see. Currently, the company’s wares are only available in a few shops stateside (check out their stock list here), but here’s hoping more of it becomes available soon! I, for one, would love to get my hands on a ton of these beautiful items! —Max

Above images: A T-shirt from the Arts & Science Spring/Summer ’13 Collection and their 2013 Hobonichi Planner.

Above image: I was particularly interested in Arts & Science’s special collection of “Genderless” clothing—beautiful, loose-fitting clothing meant to be used by both men and women.

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