Minimalist Master

The methods behind TheDenux's modern-design builds

I don’t know why architects are so expensive, but in order to get production on my modern house moving along, I’ve had to do all the design work myself. Thankfully, this week I spoke to one of the Minecraft community's modern-design experts, Matthias Lund (also known as TheDenux), so I’m feeling inspired and very confident that everything will go to plan!

Sure, I didn’t have a ruler to hand when I made the plans, and I drew them up while I was on a rollercoaster, but I’m sure the builders can make it work.

While said builders continue to stare at my drawings with what I can only describe as a look of overwhelming joy, I'll share with you the wise words that Matthias shared with me! Prepare yourself for a sharp, clean dose of minimalist inspiration.

Matthias is an experienced designer, and not just in Minecraft. Though he’s still studying, he’s also working for a property development company and he’s studied a course entitled ‘The Architectural Imagination’ at Harvard.

“It’s about how we imagine and how we can represent society in architecture,” Matthias tells me. “Doing the course, I learned a lot about building styles and techniques. I think it’s very important to give yourself a paradigm to go after and incorporate some twists into it.”

He elaborates; “An example could be that your building should follow the Golden Ratio, and to preselect what blocks and colours you’re going to use. I usually try to build in a very neutral colour, and then add different colour shades to that.”

The Golden Ratio is a very precise measurement of asymmetrical design (it has a mathematical formula and everything!), one found in the work of artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Essentially, the Golden Ratio uses exact proportions and ratios of objects to create an image pleasing to the eye, and it's frequently found in the most beautiful, spirally parts of nature. It's far too complicated for me, someone who barely graduated pre-school. Why not visit this link if you want to try understanding it – clearly it did wonders for Matthias' builds!

Matthias’ work has that impression of being so clean that it looks almost simple; so elegant it seems easy. You know, the kind of design that is so clearly thought-through and precisely planned that it looks like a breeze to make (but, irritatingly, isn't. Drat!)

“I probably developed my building style while building with my good friends,” Matthias informs me. “For a couple of years we’ve been building one of the biggest life-size cities in Minecraft, called Greenfield. Over there I was used to building real life buildings, but they had to be realistic, and eventually I wanted to do something that looked cooler and more modern. So today, my building style reflects something realistic, but also something very luxurious and elegant.”

Matthias’ work feels realistic but somehow still too elegant to exist in a real city. It’s the same feeling I get from Matthias’ favourite work to date: The Kensington Wharf that he recently published. “I was inspired to build it by a project our company is currently building in real life,” he says, “but heavily modified. It’s more the idea of the build I like - it’s like a small community surrounded by water and greenery, secluded from the busy city life.”

It’s the realistic modern city-living vibe I get, but with a small community feel. The combination of the modern design and the age-old beauty of nature so close by. Maybe that’s why it seems like it’s just out of reach - try getting that in the real London while not being a billionaire.

So how does Matthias create these buildings with such flare? “My passion for architecture is probably a combination of my love of design and fashion as well,” Matthias tells me. “What differentiates [me] from other modern builders, I think, is that I’m committed to a very strict domino system. Every block that is placed is intentionally placed so. I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and this is also from where I draw my inspiration.”

He continues, “modern [architecture] is representing reality and the future, whereas traditionalists represent the past. I don’t find that very interesting. The fun part, for me, is designing the future.”

Well I wish Matthias the best of luck with his next future-gazing build. As for my own modern house project, it's, er, going great! People will be cool with entering the living room via the ladder in the toilet, right?