Even if you don’t know much about the art style, modern design style, or lifestyle, you likely can deduce what minimalism is about just from the name. The word “minimal” is right in there. Regardless of the subject matter, minimalism is about not having more than you need. But what is it, really? When you google the word “minimalism,” you might be struck by the number of negative opinion pieces that come up. “Why I Hate Minimalism” is on the very first search engine result page! People argue that you’re throwing away everything you’ve worked hard to buy and will likely need to re-buy all the stuff you trash in the future. Others argue that it’s a pretentious movement only rich people can afford. Let’s dive in and discover what the term minimalism means, and allow ourselves to form our own opinions.
Minimalism in The Arts
After World War II, minimalism in art started to develop in the United States, and between the 60s and 70s, it flourished. You might think of minimalist art as modern design or abstract art in general. But it’s actually an extreme subcategory of abstract art that challenges the idea that art should imitate our reality. Art exists in its own reality, and shouldn’t try to be anything else. Instead of pieces composed of one medium, like paint, that imitates a human’s reality (people, food, or landscapes), minimalist art is comprised mostly of geometric shapes. It also tends to blur the boundaries and combine mediums. Some of the most prominent artists in minimalism include:
- Ellsworth Kelly
- Tony Smith
- Dan Flavin
- Frank Stella
- Sol LeWitt
Check out some of the famous minimalist art that defined the genre.
Minimalism in Modern Design
In modern design, minimalism looks simple and elegant. Imagine lots of open space with huge windows to allow for maximum natural lighting, and you’ve pretty much got it. Modern furniture tends to have simple geometric shapes, and not a lot of curves. Pieces are void of unnecessary decorative detail. Typically, if it doesn’t have a function, it doesn’t have a place in modern furniture. Color schemes generally consist of just two colors and stay within the tonal colors of those two. There is no place for unnecessary clutter or excess decor. Minimalism in modern design is similar to the visual arts, in that it’s stripped down to the basics.
All this to say, you don’t have to have completely bare walls to say that your modern design style is minimalistic. Think of it this way: you have only the decor that’s necessary to make your room feel complete, nothing more, but nothing less.
The Minimalist Lifestyle
The lifestyle movement is about more than just modern furniture in a sleek, upscale apartment and a wardrobe consisting of just three shirts and two pairs of pants. Minimalism, as a lifestyle, strips it down to the basics; don’t have more than you need, but it’s more than that. Think of minimalism in the same way you think about yoga. It’s a practice. There is no gold standard definition you’re trying to reach; it’s about practicing your daily life with only the things you truly need to impact your day to day life in a positive way.
It’s no secret that we live in a consumer’s world. Advertisements and influencers are constantly in our faces. “You NEED this.” “You also NEED this!” Every time we turn on the TV or look at our phones, we’re being told to buy something. Once we buy that something, we see a new advertisement for a replacement. The minimalist lifestyle challenges the notion that more stuff = more happiness.
The minimalist values are not new. Think about different religious groups from Catholicism to Buddhism encouraging followers to turn away from earthly possessions. But the term “minimalist” when used to describe the way a person lives and exists is fairly new and has become increasingly popular with the millennial generation. People are making more conscious decisions about what to spend their hard-earned dollars on, and they’re focused more on experiences over objects. Netflix has put out several popular documentaries or docu-series that highlight the appeal of having less.
Benefits to Minimalism Modern Design
Minimalism in life and in modern design has its benefits. There’s an obvious visual appeal of minimalist modern furniture. Contemporary, modern design is all the rage whether you’re building a new home or purchasing new modern furniture. It’s easier to clean a house with a modern design scheme because less stuff means less to clean.
Sanitation aside, a modern design style in your house gives the illusion of being clean, even if it’s not. Clutter in a home makes it look and feel dirty, even if you’re the cleanest person you know. It’s also generally more organized, so you can find what you need easier. Modern furniture often leaves plenty of room for open space, which maximizes the area in a home, making it feel bigger.
Now, modern furniture and modern design aside, minimalism as a lifestyle has its own set of benefits. If you can break the mentality that you always need to be buying the latest and greatest stuff, you will have more money in the bank. If you can realize that happiness doesn’t come from possessions, but somewhere deep within, you will be a happier person. If you can keep your living space less cluttered, your mind will be less cluttered as well.
Bigger than one individual buying some modern furniture and making changes to their own life, minimalism as a movement could greatly benefit the Earth as a whole. More people buying less stuff would relieve some of the constant pressure that drains the planet’s resources. By more thoughtfully purchasing from only companies that work to be as sustainable as possible, people who adopt a minimalist lifestyle could force real change from corporations who only seem to care about lining their pockets.
How to Live a Minimalist Life
Now that you have some information on minimalism, you might feel the urge to take it to the extreme and Marie Kondo your entire house. Before you do that and end up another “I hate minimalism” story, let us take this opportunity to remind you that not everything has to be all-or-nothing. It’s completely acceptable and appropriate to take bits and pieces from different practices and ideas to help you achieve a life that truly makes you happy. For some people, going full minimalist and stripping their earthly possessions down to what is absolutely essential and living that way for life is going to make them feel awesome. Build that tiny house, girl. But others, and probably the lot of us, can definitely benefit from purging some items that may be holding us back. If it gives you a panic attack to think about throwing out all but ten of your books or your photo albums, don’t do it! Don’t get rid of things that make you happy, period.
Is There a Downside to Minimalism?
As we touched on, people have some strong opinions regarding minimalism, especially as a lifestyle choice. If you willy-nilly throw away everything but your couch and your food, yeah, it might be a bad thing. It’s entirely possible to replace a shopping addiction with a throw-away-everything addiction. So again, you don’t have to go crazy, and becoming a minimalist doesn’t automatically make you better than any other person. So maybe don’t take a trash bag to your entire bedroom, and remember that life is like potato chips--everything in moderation.
Tips for Incorporating Minimalism and Modern Design and Home Decor
If minimalism is sounding good, but you hear our advice (DON’T TRASH EVERYTHING YOU OWN), here are some places that most people can benefit from implementing some minimalistic practices.
- Get rid of clothes you never wear. Stop holding on to those pants you swear you’re going to make work again. Chances are, by the time you do, they won’t even be in style anymore. Take your time with this. Try turning all your hangers the opposite way. Once you wear a piece of clothing, hang it back up with the hanger the correct way. After six months to a year, pitch anything you haven’t touched.
- Clean out the filing cabinet. What better place to start when you’re diving into minimalism than with those five-hundred random pieces of paper you stuffed in an accordion folder because you’re afraid you might need it again one day. Clean them up. Determine what you truly need to keep and scrap the rest.
- Get rid of the decor that doesn’t fit your style. Why do people think that home decor is a good gift? It’s sweet and thoughtful, but someone that’s interested in minimalist, modern design and modern furniture in their home most likely isn’t loving the “newlywed” throw pillows and the “home sweet home” wooden sign. If you’re hanging on to home decor pieces that don’t fit your modern design style, it’s time to get rid of them. If you inherited a sofa and it’s served you well, but you would really enjoy a piece of modern furniture in your living room, this is your permission. Sell, gift, repurpose but don’t keep something you don’t enjoy. Your home is a reflection of you, not a person’s gifts to you.
- While you’re at it, redecorate. Maybe you moved into your house ten years ago, and the “you” that decorated is no longer who you are. Minimalism is an opportunity to start over. You don’t need to move to begin again. Growth is good! Why should your place stay the same? If you want to get more into minimalism, sell what you have that can’t make the transition, and redecorate your space with a more modern design style and new modern furniture.
What is Dutch Design?
Dutch design is a great place to grab inspiration for your new modern design style. In 1993, at the international furniture fair, a Dutch design company by the name of Droog made a big impression with their modern furniture pieces, and the term “Dutch design” was coined. Among other characteristics, one of the main ones is minimalism. Here are Dutch designer Piet Boon’s tips for nailing the modern design:
- Make the most out of natural lighting.
- Flow from room to room.
- Have a place to gather.
- Keep it neutral (colors).
- Apply minimalist concepts. Less is more.
Uniek Living, the Perfect Blend of Modern Design and Minimalism
Uniek Living is home to a wide selection of original Dutch, modern design. We have everything from modern furniture to mugs in your cupboard. Uniek Living seeks out Dutch modern designs, modern furniture, and decor from companies that not only perfectly combine aesthetics and functionality, but who respect their employees and the Earth’s resources. Check out some of our favorite modern furniture and other pieces we’d like to highlight for modern design in every room of your house.
- The living room - The Kilo Calorie Coffee Table. This amazingly unique piece of modern furniture is the perfect addition to a minimalist style house. There are no nails, screws, glue, or any other form of hardware holding this coffee table together. Its pieces fit together like a puzzle and are locked in place securely by the last piece. What’s more minimalist in modern furniture than not using any hardware?
- The dining room - These Radiant Drinking Glasses. Recall for a second that minimalism in art and modern design tends to lean on geometric shapes, then look at these amazing crystal drinking glasses. So simple, and yet provides you with a huge wow factor.
- The kitchen - These Organic Jura Dawn Tea Towels. Minimalism by nature tends to be less wasteful. Get rid of the paper towels, and grab some of these tea towels for your kitchen. When you’re buying less, it’s worth it to invest in some quality basics.
- The bedroom - We love this Dost Chair. A stunningly simple piece of modern furniture that makes a perfect accent chair in a bedroom. Check out the yellow for a pop of color, or stick to your neutral tones, you minimalist queen.
- The bathroom - Just because your modern design style is pretty minimalist doesn’t mean you can just forget about the bathrooms. Choose these Facett Mirrors for a simple piece that makes a big impact.
- And some other accessories we can’t bear to leave out -
So, we’ve made our case for minimalism in moderation. We’ve stressed that you don’t have to be extreme. Don’t throw away all the things you’ve acquired over a lifetime and expect to be happier immediately. Do go through your clutter and get rid of everything you know you won’t need or that doesn’t fit your modern design style anymore. Do buy a couple of pieces of quality, modern furniture and see how living a more minimalist life makes you feel. Work on shifting your way of thinking from “buy all the things” to buying only what you need and buying quality pieces that will last for years to come. Remember that minimalism is a practice. No one is a perfect minimalist, so don’t bother trying. Find your balance, find what makes you happy, and shop Uniek Living for quality pieces that fill your modern furniture and modern design needs.