This piece was written for Trouva, you can read it here on their blog Counter Culture.
Minimalism is not a modern lifestyle choice, yet in this current climate it’s ancient values speak with resonance to our over-stuffed homes and minds. Some of history’s most venerated religious and philosophical figureheads such as Confucius and Lao Tzu have prescribed a life poor in material possessions but rich in meaning since the 6th century BC. For modern day proponents of the movement Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus a.k.a. ‘The Minimalists’, most ‘stuff’ is superfluous to leading a content and meaningful life. They summarise minimalism as, ‘a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfilment, and freedom.’ They’re also keen to stress that contrary to popular belief, the essence of minimalism is about more, not less: more time, more space, more freedom.
Where can you find examples of minimalist interiors and architecture?
In the context of design, the roots of minimalism are strongly connected to the East, especially Japan – where the influence of Zen Buddhism runs deep – whose architecture has had a huge influence on the West over the last two centuries. Renowned British designer John Pawson is heavily influenced by Japanese minimalism and his aesthetic is still defined by the principles he encountered on a trip to the country over 40 years ago. Traditional components of minimalist architecture and interiors harnessed by the West place an emphasis on the influx of natural light, rectilinear or geometric panels and furniture, high ceilings, and a restrained use of decoration.
L-R:A traditional Japanese minimalist interior | A John Pawson designed house in St. Tropez
Why is a minimalist interior good for you?
Minimalism is perhaps the only design philosophy that has such profound benefits for it’s followers’ physical and mental wellbeing. Intensive de-cluttering is not merely undertaken for the purpose of achieving a desired aesthetic, but as a means to embark on a cathartic personal journey. We can neglect objects that are of no use to us for months, even years, allowing them to gather dust and take up valuable space. The same goes for ways of thinking that are outdated and harmful to us. A fearfulness surrounds minimalism, as does a tentativeness for those considering embarking on a course of therapy: once you’ve stripped everything back, what will you be left with? Be courageous: seeing your home through a minimalist filter allows you to shine a light into the darkness, to see clearly the things that no longer serve you, and to let go of them. You don’t need to go to extreme lengths of limiting yourself to 100 items, but small steps taken to free yourself from the weight of surplus items can lead to a profoundly liberating state of mind.
L – R: Let there be sculptural light, Siritov Architects project, PS3H | Shine an elegant light on your interiors, Another Country Workstead Brass Pendant £650.26
How do you create a minimalist interior?
If you’ve ever read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Japanese lifestyle consultant Marie Kondo, then you’ll know the most effective criteria to use when deciding what to keep and what to discard in your home, is to determine whether or not something sparks joy in your heart when you touch it. If it does, it’s worth keeping. If it doesn’t, get rid of it without giving it a second thought. A commitment to minimalism requires us to be more thoughtful about the objects that we invest in, and consequently the way that we consume. What will last? What will serve? What will bring joy? Form, function, colour and material are of paramount importance. Try to find items with elegant proportions that echo architectural features to give the space a sense of harmony. Earthy materials such as wood foster a connection to the natural world, but manmade textures such as concrete are also synonymous with minimalist interiors. If cement feels too industrial to use in large architectural elements, accessories such as wall clocks are less of a commitment.
L-R: Natural materials such as wood work well in minimalist interiors | Haygen, House Doctor Concrete Wall Clock, £59.99
Minimalist interiors are characterised by a sense of order, simplicity, calm and restraint. Natural elements such as light and a sense of space are brought to the fore, framed by architectural details such as beams, windows and pitched ceilings. However, it’s important to introduce some features to prevent your space becoming an overly sterile atmosphere: plants, sheepskin rugs or discreet prints can be useful to add life, texture and focus.
L-R: Studio 8A by Rye London architects | Scandi Living, Natures Collection Brown Icelandic Sheepskin, £99.00 |DOWSE, Dowse Love Print, £37.50
Why you should think about simplifying your space
For some, the idea of converting their entire living space into a temple of minimalism feels unachievable, if that rings true then it might be more manageable to commit to making at least one room a simple, clutter-free zone. A minimalist interior, or a single room, helps keep one grounded in the present, promotes a thoughtfulness towards the objects around you and the space you inhabit, and if nothing else, makes finding the car keys so much easier on a hectic Monday morning: motivation enough to become highly skilled in the KonMari™ method.
Minimal storage: a good place to leave your car keys, Normann Copenhagen Pocket Organiser in Ivory White, £12.00