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A Minimalist Interior Design: Creating Serenity and Functionality in Your Home 

Minimalism has become one of the most popular current design styles today. Characterized by its neutral colour palette and pared-down furniture, many people are embracing minimalism and its calm and tranquil nature.

What is the history of Minimalism?

Minimalism has a history that dates back about a hundred years, if not a little longer. Way back in the 1920s, German design school Bauhaus School started introducing furniture that balanced utility with beauty, emphasizing that a space should be functional and deliberate, by choosing furniture that is top quality, and only purchasing what is needed, nothing more. 

After that, minimalism especially rose to prominence in the post-World War II era as a response to the rise in consumerism and maximalist tendencies that the post war social environment created, as well as the incorporation of industrial materials into interior design.

The word minimalism was first used in the 1960s, from the New York-based Minimal Art movement, when artists began turning to minimalism within their pieces. They used clean, geometric designs, and lots of white space, resisting the rigidity of fine art and breaking away from Abstract Expressionism, emphasizing the materials and simplicity of the pieces and removing storytelling and metaphors from their art.

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe is often credited with first applying the phrase “less is more” to architectural design and is often cited as being one of the most prominent figures in minimalist design. In the 1970s, German designer Dieter Rams published his book, 10 Principles for Good Design, that would go on to serve as a blueprint for interior designers hoping to work with minimalist design.

Of course, minimalism is also touted as being a frame of mind, and this mentality finds its greatest influence from Japan, in The Zen philosophy. Zen is a school of Buddhism, and literally means meditation, used to help one find self-realization and enlightenment. Zen Buddhism emphasizes simplicity and the natural world and is one of the key characteristics of minimalist design.

The Characteristics of Minimalism

The main characteristics of minimalism include simplicity, clean lines, and uncluttered spaces. This places focus on the essentials and eliminate unnecessary extras, while creating and embracing negative space to allow for breathing room and create flow. 

There is also a focus on functionality and quality, understanding the use that each piece of furniture will bring to a space, and only including items that are necessary to make a space functional and comfortable. Being deliberate in your furniture and décor choices is important, as there still needs to be cohesion within the space by choosing items for their high-quality and simple design. 

There is often an emphasis on textures in minimalism rather than patterns, and colour palettes are usually simple and may be neutral, but using an exclusively neutral colour palette is not required to achieve this design style.

The point is to create spaces that foster calmness and clarity and reject consumerism and the need for “stuff.”

Incorporating Minimalist Design

When we think of minimalism, one of the first things to come to mind is probably the colour palette. Modern minimalism generally uses a very neutral colour palette, like beige, browns, whites, and greys.  These colours are most commonly used in wall paint, flooring, and textiles, such as furniture, rugs and curtains. It is possible to incorporate colours, such as blues, greens, and yellows, but they are usually used sparingly, and as pastels. The key here is to use a flow-through colour such as white, and adding other colours through the use of natural materials like wood, stone, metal and linen.

Solid colours rather than patterns are also common here to eliminate a sense of busyness and house plants and wood with warm undertones help bring in a sense of warmth. Warmth is also achieved through the use of natural light, ensuring that windows are not obstructed in any way, and provide lots of light to a space. In addition, adding lights to help increase the bright airy nature of a space as needed is important.

Minimalism also generally uses an open floor plan to help create flow from room to room. Again, negative space is used here to make a space appear larger, and to prevent a feeling of being “closed-in” by one’s surroundings. This also means usually placing furniture in the middle of a room rather than pushing it up against the walls, and using furniture items that may be multi-functional, such as an ottoman with built-in storage.

Finally, minimalism understands that in order to live comfortably, we still need to own things that may create clutter. So, having lots of closed storage that extends from floor to ceiling will help maintain the clean lines that are essential to minimalist design, while ensuring that you are not living without things you need. 

Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer

Summer 2024

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