Minimalism in Design

Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Illinois (US)
Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Illinois (US)

Minimalism cannot be more aptly defined than with the expression – “Less is more,” a motto adopted by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to describe his aesthetic yet practical arrangement of indispensable components to create an impression of simplicity. He incorporated only the absolutely crucial elements to serve the requisite visual and functional purposes of it. Simply put, the idea suggests eliminating excesses, de-cluttering and making use of bare essentials. The movement started way back in the late 1960s in various forms of art and design, more specific to visual arts and music then. The minimalist artists drew references from the De Stijl (Dutch for “style”) movement, founded in the early 1920s, which was also known as “Neoplasticism.” Advocators of De Stijl movement simplified visual compositions and reduced the essentials of form and colour. The movement propagates that ideas could be expressed with the use of basic elements such as lines and planes organized in precise manner.

It is also noted that minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture. The Japanese culture advocates the concept of MA (間) (pronounced ‘maah’) meaning “the pure, and indeed essential, void between all things.” The concept emphasizes the possibility of emptiness and de-cluttering where the focus is on a specific object that can exist, stand out and exude importance. When a home is cluttered, every valuable thing loses its value and where there is too much, our ability to focus on the important features of our living space diminishes. Thus the Western concept of minimalism is steeply grounded in many different cultures and revolutionary movements.

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