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On the surface, minimalism and the great outdoors don't seem to have much in common. However, upon closer examination, minimalist design's unapologetic shedding of extraneous elements closely echoes the process of natural selection - a process whereby plants and animals that have survived through the ages have done so by casting off all traits deemed unnecessary for survival. A clean focus on the essentials.
It's only fitting then that when cooking and eating in nature, one does so with a minimalist flair.
Dining al fresco is an opportunity to return to basics. Simple ingredients are the key, be they what's on the table or the table itself. The Itauba table (pictured below) is an all-in-one outdoor kitchen solution. An unlikely design from outdoor gear manufacturer Snowpeak, this Japanese-inspired table features a stove and grill in the center. The camp lanterns are optional of course.
In fact, there's much more to outdoor lighting than camp lanterns. The al fresco kitchen should invite starlight in and keep light pollution out. For that purpose, dark sky lighting provides light where it's needed (for pathways, stairs and such) without destroying the natural ambience.
Hinkley Atlantis Bronze High Dark Sky Outdoor Wall Light (left), Vertical Dark Sky High Outdoor Wall Light (right)
Fire can be central to the outdoor experience. Heat source. Light source. Marshmallow roaster. New Zealand based Escea makes a stunning line of modernist outdoor fireplaces.
Sleek, stark modernist lines are seemingly incongruous with nature, yet anyone who has seen Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater or John Lautner's Desert Hot Springs Motel (recently renovated by interior designer Tracy Beckmann) will speak of the sublime attention to the land that both of these monuments exhibit. The open-air folly pictured below, by New Zealand based Herbst Architects, is constructed mostly of natural materials to provide a minimalist respite that blends into the surroundings yet keeps the rain out. It includes a simple kitchen and dining table.
Less is more. Such has been the modernist doctrine for nearly a century now and such has been the doctrine of nature for eons, proof that good design never goes out of style.
Images: The Outdoor Stylist, MoCo Loco, Urban Gardens, Escea, Architechnophilia
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