Minimalism was an artistic movement that emerged prominently after World War II and emphasized ideas of simplicity and thoughtfulness. Minimalism as a concept has influenced everything in our lives, from art and design to lifestyle choices.
The contemporary manifestations of minimalism from such advocates as lifestyle expert Marie Kondo show us that minimalism is still a powerful influence on our culture today.
It also plays an important role in shaping minimalist interior design ideas. Learn about this historic movement, the key concepts of minimalism, and how they play into current design trends.
Development of Minimalism
Minimalism, also called minimal art, is a design movement that emerged as a reaction to the abstract expression movement of the 1940s. Yet its roots are part of a much longer line of ideas that grew up around earlier American movements that celebrated simplicity. These ideas are documented in the writings of authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Minimalism was also influenced by concepts presented by the Japanese design style, the De Stijl movement, and the Bauhaus style of the 1920s and 30s.
Minimalism as a specific movement emerged in the 1960s with visual artists such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Frank Stella. These artists focused on creating art that used simple geometric shapes, clean lines, and a deliberate lack of ornamentation. These minimalist concepts began to take shape in other mediums, including architecture and music. It was also embraced as a philosophy that impacted how people lived: their values, the way they consumed, and the ways they sought fulfillment.
Minimalism and Minimalist Interior Design
The design philosophy of minimalism has had a profound and lasting influence on interior design. Minimalist interior design fleshes out the principles, aesthetics, and approach of minimalism in interior spaces. Minimalist interior design reduces the design elements to only what is necessary.
Many proponents feel that minimalist interior design is the ideal antidote to the fast pace and complications of life today. The human quality is a vital element in minimalist interior design, as it is a more holistic design style. It always considers how a particular design influences and elevates the human experience.
Minimalist interior design has become even more important in recent years as ideas of sustainability have become a common design goal. There has also been a lifestyle shift where people want to focus more on living purposefully. Designers have also been broadening the appeal with new looks like warm minimalism which incorporates warmer colors and earthy textures. Whatever your design aesthetic, minimalism has ideas that can offer you practical solutions for simpler and more mindful living within your home space.
Essential Design Elements of Minimalist Interior Design
Minimalist interior design seeks to create spaces that are purposeful, calming, and uncluttered. To achieve the most effective designs, interior designers follow a careful set of ideas that guide them toward this end.
Simplicity is often a misunderstood concept in minimalist interior design. It is not about creating stark or empty spaces but rather reducing the items within a space to get the optimal balance between functionality and design.
The ideas of simplicity can be summed up in the words of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who adopted the motto “Less is more”. In essence, by having less clutter and distraction in our spaces, we can be free to truly enjoy how the things in the room contribute to a fuller and more authentic lifestyle. Simplicity is not to get rid of all ornamentation but rather to reduce it to where nothing else can be removed to improve the design of the space.
Clean Lines and Shapes
The use of clean lines and shapes is a hallmark of minimalist interior design. It is one of the most vital reasons that minimalism looks ordered and balanced. This design approach prizes the use of straight lines in architectural elements like window frames, baseboards, columns, and moldings and in furniture design.
It is also common to see the use of simple geometric shapes such as rectangles, squares, and circles in minimalist architectural features, furniture, and decor. These shapes provide visual clarity and structural simplicity for the overall design.
Limited Color Palette
The use of a limited color palette, one that is monochromatic or neutral-based, is a deliberate choice that supports the philosophical goals of minimalist interior design. The goals of minimalism, like serenity and simplicity, are promoted by the use of soothing colors like gray, beige, and black.
These colors create a calming atmosphere by reducing the visual noise of a wide array of bright colors. The use of monochromatic or neutral colors allows more attention to be given to the form of the furniture or architectural features of the room. Many of these colors are also timeless, negating the need to reinvent a new color palette according to the latest color trends.
Use of Negative Space
Negative space is a phrase that is popular in art and refers to areas that are deliberately left empty. It is a fundamental design element in minimalist interior design and refers to the amount of space between design elements like furniture and decor in the room. Negative space allows the mind and the eye to rest rather than stay busy examining all the elements in the room.
The use of negative space also allows interior designers to emphasize the most key elements of the space because attention can be focused on pieces vital to the design rather than on tangential furniture and decor.
Functional Furniture and Decor
Minimalist interior design emphasizes the use of just the furniture and decor that are essential to the room’s design and the comfort of the user. This aligns with the philosophical and design goals of simplicity and a lack of excess. In minimalism, each piece of furniture and decor is chosen based on its usefulness. Certain pieces are adaptable to meet different needs. Minimalist designers prize modular pieces for their adaptability. They also prefer the simplest styles that still promote quality and comfort.
Clutter-free spaces are a fundamental signifier of minimalism. Because clutter is such an endemic part of our lives, a clutter-free space reflects the deliberate elimination of excess and unnecessary items within the design.
Decluttered spaces allow our minds and our eyes to rest on the negative spaces and key elements within the design. This is one reason minimalist interior designers prize hidden storage solutions like under-the-bed storage because they can present a more open and clean living environment. This is also an invitation to focus on quality over quantity. Buy the best that you can afford so that you will be motivated to cherish quality pieces over time.
Use Natural Materials
Natural materials and minimalist interior design are natural partners. Natural materials like wood and stone come in soothing and neutral colors like brown, gray, white, beige, and black. They make sturdy and functional furniture and decor that you can keep for your lifetime. These materials have a clean and simple appearance and texture that work seamlessly with minimalist interior design.
Focus on Natural Light
The most effective minimalist interior design creates a soothing and calm atmosphere, and, in part, this is due to the emphasis given to natural light. Natural light is known to have a beneficial effect on our mood and well-being. The increase of natural light in a space increases these positive feelings. Windows are a primary way that minimalist designers add natural light to a room. Large windows help connect us to the outside world and minimize the need for other sources of artificial light.
Reduction of Technological Clutter
The reduction of technological clutter is in keeping with the design goal of simplicity in minimalist interior design. Reducing the items of technology like a desktop, televisions, and other screens will give the design a simpler and more streamlined appearance. It will also help to add emphasis on furniture and decor that promote human interaction.
This does not mean that technology cannot be incorporated into minimalist design; rather, it is vital that you choose items of technology carefully and limit their visibility in each room. You can also employ methods like hidden storage to hide technology when it is not in use.
Personal expression and minimalism may seem like paradoxical concepts, but personal expression is fundamental to effective minimalist design. Personal tastes like preferred colors, materials, textures, lifestyle, and goals are vital considerations in minimalist interior design.
Rather than forgoing all personal taste, the minimalist design style invites expressing your personal taste within a set of cohesive design guidelines. The results can look very unique, which is why there is such a broad array of minimalist interior designs.