What is Minimalism?
I mean we all know what the minimalism aesthetic is about. There are rules you need to abide by, like you can only own things if they are black, white, charcoal or made of wood. Decorative pieces are a hard no, no ornate nothing buddy. Everything you own must obviously be able to be packed into a black, Muji carry on suitcase and accompanying backpack. Oh yes, and you need to tell everyone you are a minimalist. It is like veganism, but for aesthetic.
Actually, after doing the research and reading the blogs by people who are living this philosophy it is less about aesthetic and more about cutting out distraction in life so you can focus on your priorities. Aesthetic is a side effect. Stuff distracts you from what is important, stuff takes up your time, time you could be spending doing other things. That is not to say you shouldn’t cherish certain things, but you actually can’t cherish all things. So pick the ones that ‘spark joy’ as Marie Kondo says. That could be your bialletti mocha pot or it could be a white t-shirt or a pink, fluffy, overly ornate armchair. Minimalism is about filtering out the chaff so that the things that really add value to your life for whatever reason get to their fullest potential.
So now we can see how minimalism should work its way into a kind of aesthetic, it isn’t about being black, white, charcoal and wood, but one can see how that became the default. Those colours are the least distracting, the least invasive, they allow other things to stand out, to take priority, they don’t compete for attention and are timeless. Certain timbers are the textural version of this, they don’t demand acknowledgement. They just exist quite plainly and beautifully. Shape and form follow suit, in the minimalist aesthetic they are the things that are simplest and the most unobtrusive that allow users to focus on other things.
What this means though is that you can’t really adopt a minimalist look if you are a hoarder, as desperately as you may want to. You have to change your lifestyle/mindset and the aesthetic will follow. (Side note: I have definitely used the word ‘aesthetic’ too much in this post. Apologies.) This sometimes always make me chuckle as a designer because you have potential clients that produce these impeccably curated minimalist Pinterest boards of the style they are after and then you walk into their existing space which is every colour under the rainbow and every surface and wall has a trinket on. There is such a disconnect which is going to take more than a white wall and ash table to fix.
Some really good blog posts I came across while researching minimalism.