What is 20 square metres? It’s 1/357th of a soccer pitch, about 1/267th of an American football field, and less than 1/10th of a tennis court. Now imagine a cafe of that size. And it’s in Shanghai. Then call it Fine.
What is Fine?
Located in the Huashan Lu neighbourhood is a pastry café called Fine 西洋果子店 (literally translated as Fine Western Fruit Shop in English). Despite the misleading name, Fine is part of an “eponymous hospitality chain which runs Japanese retro-style cafés and shops in the city” (thanks to Superfuture for the info).
Brutal wooden minimalism
The rustic style is thanks to local architects Atelier A with a unique concave triangle entrance, adorned with shabby chic painting and dark varnish.
The inside design is much the same, with behind the counter (and the counter itself) full of dark olive kernel wood panelling. For the customer side, it’s all exposed brick and flaking plaster, with suspended lights. It’s like weathered 19th-century apothecary meets brutalism but if someone hated it and went to town on the walls with a pneumatic drill.
Fine’s menu offers a variety of cakes and biscuits, soft drinks and a range of tea options.
Alex (full name Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz) is a French “Self-taught Homecook / Self-taught Filmmaker” and he managed to find a way to make a foodsafe kintsugi hack. The video starts in September 2017 in Alex’s studio with a small bowl which he drops and, naturally, it broke. He then discusses how much he loved it and goes through his kitchen, showing all the other broken utensils he had patched up.
So, rather than send his favourite blue and white bowl to ceramic heaven, he took it to Mizuyo Yamashita, a London-based ceramic artist who specialised in kintsugi. But it’s not only Japanese artforms she uses:
I work now mostly on the potter’s wheel and apply surface decorating techniques that stem from Japanese and Korean traditions such as shinogi, mishima and kohiki or carve the clay surface using Japanese chisels for wood-printing.
I love kintsugi, visually and philosophically. It’s a beautiful technique that teaches so much about life and the objects in our lives. Minimalism is portrayed as an antithesis of our post-postmodern maximalist world. But a lot of it does the opposite with nothing more than licks of white paint and expensive items – even if there aren’t many of them.
Kintsugi offers a chance to repair something beloved; that holds a value in our lives – and gives it a new golden life. Sure, Alex’s “hack” cuts the time down and might remove that time of contemplation but you still have a beautiful bowl that brings you joy. Marie Kondo would approve.
The Black Minimalists want to change that perspective. They are a community of individuals who identify as black and live minimalist lifestyles.
The website launched this year and is funded by the founding team members. The team is made up of four people: founder Yolanda Acree, and co-founders Farai Harreld, Kenya Cummings, and Anekia Nicole. Everything from food and travel to beauty and fashion is covered but more importantly, Black Minimalists welcome collaboration and support to spread the word and provide a safe space to do so.
I got into The Minimalists in 2017 after a breakup and while the minimalist movement is heavily whitewashed and misguided, these guys talk sense.
Rather than getting rid of everything and only buy 5 expensive white items in your expensive white apartment, they tell you to keep the things that have value and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t. It seems basic but that’s the trouble with letting go: it can be a fine art.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known to their four million readers as “The Minimalists,” have written four books, including the bestselling memoir, Everything That Remains. They write about living a meaningful life with less stuff at TheMinimalists.com. Their new film, Minimalism, is currently the #1 documentary of 2016.