The Minimal Accessories Brand Inspired by the Mono-ha Movement

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Building Block S/S18

Eschewing excess, Building Block’s non-conformist accessories toe the line between purpose and play

  1. Who is it? Los Angeles-based accessories brand, Building Block
  2. Why do I want it? Playful, non-conformist accessories inspired by the Japanese Mono-ha movement
  3. Where can I buy it? Online at Building Block’s website

Who is it? Tired of fast fashion, sisters Kimberly and Nancy Wu begun Building Block on the principle that accessories should be built to last. The pair, equipped with backgrounds in industrial design, began by utilising materials such as rubber, raw wood and high quality leathers to celebrate everyday material and shapes, creating accessories which toed the line between luxury and play.

Informed greatly by the artists and designers of decades past, the sisters cite the 20th century Mono-ha movement, especially the work of artists Lee Ufan and Sekine Nobuo, as a powerful influence. “The movement is about communication between man and nature, presenting transient arrangements of raw and untreated natural and industrial materials like wood, steel, rubber, and stone,” the sisters share. “On a surface level, we find the element of design and materiality with their work compelling. On a deeper level we want to relate to the movement’s non-conforming attitude toward their industry as a whole. Within our design practice, we constantly strive to find a balance between the creator, the work, the world and the viewer.”

In addition to the artists of this movement, Kimberly and Nancy also reference iconic filmmakers and directors Jacques Tati and Yasujiro Ozu as great inspirations. The two creatives are most noted for their cinematic genius and their films’ power to transcend both time and space. “We admire both directors for being perfectionists in designing engaging and deliberate compositions,” the sisters explain. “From Ozu, Floating Weeds and Equinox Flower are favourites. Tati’s Playtime is such a fun classic, each scene is full of surprise.”

Why do I want it? Building Block’s accessories, ranging from totes, to wristlets, sling bags, and more, are both striking and intentional – the combination of distinctive esoteric shapes blend perfectly with its cool and warm colour palettes. Small details, such as handles fashioned out of large wooden beads and bases made of structural leather, make the pieces durable, functional and design-conscious. Each bag embodies a life of its own: the ‘Wave’ tote is a great expression of this season’s free-flowing influence, its silhouette boasts gentle, curving lines that are structural yet limber. The ‘Mini Cube Slings’ are totally decorative and are not necessarily made for functionality, a design that embraces Building Block’s outside-of-the-box thinking.

Their latest collection, S/S18, is described by the sisters as “a season that embraces flexibility and poetry over the perfection of proportion” and that it “shines a light on alternate outcomes, malleability, improvisation, and decoration”. Needless to say, Building Block takes the wearer back to basics in the most unique way possible.

Where can I buy it? Online at Building Block