Yes, it is very possible to create a warm and inviting minimalist interior that brings peace and joy into your home.
Minimalist design is not about coming up with cold white box rooms with sparse and sterile furniture dispersed haphazardly across your home. Creating a living space inspired by minimalist design style is a thoughtful process that requires a fine balancing act between prioritising daily essentials and your own signature home style.
Let’s first look at how the minimalist interior design trend started to ground our understanding of the history and philosophy behind this growing design movement.
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WHAT IS MINIMALIST DESIGN?
Minimalist design is a visual aesthetic that can be traced back to the 20th century. It has greatly influenced the worlds of architecture, interiors, art, graphic design, fashion, and many other industries.
Minimalism focuses on revealing the simplicity and core functions of a building, a space, an object, or a piece of art by using limited materials, muted colour schemes, sharp and clean lines, and streamlined to no ornamentation to achieve a refined form of elegance.
Cost-effective building techniques combined with eco-friendly materials that priorioritise the environment, meticulous craftsmanship, and a humble aesthetic have made minimalist design accessible to the masses, which has contributed to its growing popularity.
BRIEF HISTORY OF MINIMALIST DESIGN
In the Islamic art world, minimalist design predates its arrival in the West, as geometric abstraction was used as a way to reconcile religion, art, and science. This is because the depiction of religious figures is not allowed in Islamic art.
In European and North American shores, the design movement emerged as a rejection of the flamboyant and highly ornamental styles of the past, from Baroque, Gothic to Victorian architecture and Abstract Expressionism.
Minimalist design draws its influence from the Zen design style of traditional Japanese gardens and interiors, clean aesthetics of Scandinavian design, Bauhaus architecture, Brutalist architecture, Modern design, and Mid-century Modern design.
From 1917 to 1931, a group of Dutch artists and architects created an art movement in Leiden – the Netherlands known as De Stijl (Ducth for “The Style ”) as a reaction to Dutch Expressionist architecture.
The design movement, pioneered by Theo Van Doesburg and Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan, advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour.
In their designs, they streamlined visual compositions to vertical and horizontal monochromatic lines, using only black, white, and grey and limited primary colours of red, yellow, and blue.
De Stijl itself drew inspiration from the Japanese Zen philosophy which epitomises minimalism and simplicity at its core. Traditional minimalist Japanese home design aesthetics are based on a few key principles:
- Ma, an artistic interpretation of an empty space to help focus attention
- Ikebana, flower arrangements to adorn the alcove of a traditional Japanese home
- Wabi-sabi, an appreciation for beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” in nature
With their motto on form that follows function and greater focus on how people lived compared to what they found beautiful, Bauhaus and Modernist design movements were instrumental in shaping minimalist design aesthetics.
Architects from these Schools of design introduced the use of new materials such as glass, steel, and concrete together with warm wood and geometric forms into post-world wars newly built homes and furnishings.
The “less is more” mantra of minimalist design is a quote from legendary Bauhaus German architect Mies Van Der Rohe, who had a great influence in post-war European and North American architecture.
Bauhaus and Modernist design movements themselves were heavily shaped by minimalist principles of Scandinavian design.
Scandinavian design promotes simplicity in design to serve overall function, bright and natural lighting, clean lines and composition, lighter and neutral colours, and the use of natural elements and flooring.
Minimalist design continued to grow in popularity in the 1960’s thanks to a group of American artists who started experimenting with geometric abstraction in their designs. Some notable artists of that period include Carl Andre, Donal Judd, Dan Flavin, Al Held, and Frank Stella.
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF MINIMALIST DESIGN
- Aesthetic restraint with minimal to no ornamentation or decoration
- Formal simplicity in architecture and design
- Clean lines and sharp shapes
- Every element serves a function and purpose
- Uncluttered and open-plan living spaces with well integrated storage
- Muted colour schemes (with or without accent colours) to create a calming home
- Use of limited, carefully selected materials such as wood, concrete, steel, and glass
- Focus on geometric, sculptural forms and well crafted statement pieces
WHAT IS GOOD MINIMALIST DESIGN?
Start with a muted colour scheme
Minimalist design has continued to evolve over the years. Today, there is an emergence of a more personalised, warmer form of minimalism that encourages people to infuse cosier textures, earthy tones and softer neutrals into their homes.
Think monochromatic colours such as soft beige, greige, olive green, soft terracotta, dark-blue gray for your home interiors and furnishings! Yes, this is the new bespoke form of minimalism. Give it a go.
Keep it simple
Practice architectural restraint in your home building design, and embrace functionality and clean lines for every element that you incorporate into your home.
Both the architecture and the interior design must seamlessly work together to create an effortlessly chic atmosphere.
For example, hide the joinery, avoid too many distracting wall decorations, and opt for furnishings with softer textures and shapes that can easily blend into many decor styles.
Showcase your statement pieces
Add personality into your minimalist design by investing in beautifully crafted pieces such as carefully chosen patterns, sculptures, artwork, rugs, and great lighting to warm up your space.
Play with balance and symmetry
A sense of balance and a respect for symmetry should prevail in your well curated minimalist home to create harmony.
For example, in your bedroom, try to arrange your furniture and decor as symmetrically as possible to achieve a well proportioned room aesthetic.
Keep the space uncluttered
Minimalism is about airy and open-space layouts that prioritise daily essential living. Build seamlessly integrated storage into your design to tuck away all your non-essential items.
Keep on displaying only what serves a specific function and purpose to allow your mind to rest and better focus your attention in a well organised space.
Combine different shades and textures
Play with different softer shades and textures in your rooms to create a layering effect and achieve a more upscale design aesthetic.
Use raw materials such as warm wood, natural stone and concrete, glass, and steel alongside jute, rattan, linen, cotton, bouclé textiles, and handcrafted pottery to add uniqueness and warmth into your home.
These materials that are not all identical carry some imperfections that add to their beauty and timelessness.
MINIMALIST HOME DECOR INSPIRATIONS
From cushions and throws to sofas and home accessories, browse through a few decor finds that will hopefully stir up your minimalist designer creativity. Have fun!