With all the noise we have to contend with in today’s world, being presented with something simple, clean, and easy-to-use—whether it be a website you are navigating, an airbnb rental for a weekend getaway, or your very own home—makes for a less stressful and pleasant experience. Enter minimalism, the art of simplicity where unnecessary elements are removed and where functionality is apparent right from the get-go.
Minimalism in Architecture
In architecture, minimalism has only absolute essentials present in a spaee. Contrary to what most people think, minimalism is not just about removing elements. It starts from the very beginning during the design stage when a lot of thought goes into pinning down what the essentials are. The hallmarks of minimalism are clean lines, uncluttered spaces, and monochromatic color schemes.
One of the pioneers in modernist architecture Mies van der Rohe’s aesthetic has at its core the guiding principle that “less is more”. This aphorism is very much still in use today, not only in architecture but also in interior design, fashion, visual arts, music… Mies van der Rohe believed that buildings should be stripped down to the bare minimum, and nothing should be present that does not add to the function or beauty of a space. He rejected the traditional enclosed rooms by minimizing intersecting planes. He also used glass to dissolve the boundary between external and interior spaces, maximizing space and the feeling of openness.
The father of modern American architecture Louis Sullivan, known for the earliest steel-frame skyscrapers, coined the axiom “form follows function’. He believed that the starting point for any architectural undertaking is function. The focus for the design of the building (as well as the decoration) is the purpose of the building. He created buildings that pushed upward, highlighting verticality. As for decoration, he used it to emphasize the structure instead of distracting from it.
Considered the greatest architect of all time, Franklin Lloyd Wright extended his mentor Sullivan’s teaching by saying that, “form and function are one”. Wright helped pioneer organic architecture, where interiors and exteriors are in harmony. He believed in creating spaces that are both functional and humane. He was not concerned only about the function of the building, but also about how the lives of the people living in it could be enriched.
Minimalism in Industrial Design
Architect and interior designer Dieter Rams, who became German company Braun’s chief design officer in the early 60s, coined the axiom “less, but better”. He designed gadgets that looked austere but were user friendly. His designs influenced Apple designer Jonathan Ive.
Rams introduced the idea of sustainable development. For him, good design has the following 10 principles:
- innovative – harness technological development
- makes a product useful – satisfy criteria in functionality, psychology, and aesthetics
- aesthetic – products affect well-being of people
- makes a product understandable – self-explanatory features
- unobtrusive – design should be neutral and restrained to make room for the user’s self-expression
- honest – does not manipulate a consumer to believe that it is more powerful, innovative, and valuable
- long-lasting – not fashionable or trendy so will last for many years
- thorough down to the last detail – details are considered carefully, nothing is arbitrary or left to chance
- environmentally friendly – conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
- as little design as possible – concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.
Is Less More?
Majority of the Filipinos are not into minimalism. Look at our festivals! Our weaves! Our dances! Our food! Our clothes! Our churches! Our homes! Our cultural diversity which have influenced us! Even today’s #teamputi gang love decor and stuff…lots of stuff.
If you are interested in making your home a minimalist haven, then have the following features in place:
- streamlined form and structure
- clean visual spaces
- simple geometric designs
- minimal ornamentation
- matte surfaces (use Virtuoso paint)
- neutral colors
- minimal combination of materials
- open-plan spaces
- muted tones of whites and grays (check out the Konstrukt Lunar Series)
- craft of the construction (no room for errors)
If minimalism is not for you because you believe more is more, consider at least the impact your home would have on the environment.
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