When we’re talking style, we’re talking art! And the minimalist realm has manifested some absolutely stunning works of art, especially in the space of visual art and design. Minimalism first blew up in the middle of the 20th century for its abstract translation into paintings and art displays.
It has remained a famous and highly-praised design style for not only its simplistic beauty, but the amount of precision it takes to pull it off. Conscious use of shapes and textures, and scrupulous attention to placement make a minimalist’s home pleasing to the eye.
What is minimalist style?
In today’s world we want to be surrounded by things because when we are, people make good assumptions about us. That’s because a person’s value has become contingent on their things.
Consumerist culture has convinced us that if a person has a lot of things, they must be happier than us, have more fun than us, or have access to more resources than us. Minimalism defies that logic and asserts that we don’t find fulfilment in more, but less.
The theory of “less” has been applied to everything from relationships to music with desirable results. But we’re going to be analyzing where minimalism seems to shine brightest: style and design! So if you want to turn your life into a minimalist lifestyle poster, you’ll want to stay tuned.
Minimalist Style and Design: Less is More
Minimalism is unmatched in its popularity and its daringness to challenge societal norms. What you’ll find here is simplistic, functional, and to the point. Simple doesn’t mean effortless, though!
Minimalism is still art, just without all the frills, sparkles, splashes, or big garnishes or pops. Minimalists artists and designers experiment with colors and shapes in order to produce an eye-catching effect and give you a lot to think about with little to look at.
Though, the biggest question might be how minimalists keep themselves and their living spaces so sharp and clean. We’re going to look at what minimalism means in terms of fashion, interior, and visual art design.
As previously mentioned, minimalist designers depend mostly on shapes and colors to make their statement.
In minimalist fashion, the shape aspect comes in the tailoring. The way your outfit is tailored can completely change the style and feel of your outfit. The loose and fitting components of your outfit should be coordinated.
An example of a minimalist outfit with an interesting shape would be, say, a pair of black bell bottom pants with a black belt, long cream colored button up shirt—front tucked in and top button undone, revealing a clean white undershirt.
Complete with black pointed-toe heels and a neutral-colored handbag. Perfect! Imagine the outfit in your mind: the minimal color palette, the use of relatively plain, monochromatic pieces.
Notice that it’s the layering and tailoring that create a unique silhouette and a feeling of intention. When you’re rocking unassuming and basic clothing choices, there’s a fine line between “I meant to do this” and “I just threw this on”.
When it comes to color, minimalist fashion doesn’t stray very often outside of a variety of two colors (unless they’re colors of similar hue). The colors are usually neutral and earth tones.
Outfits only consist of only a few articles but they’re clean, fitting, and obviously coordinated. Minimalists fill their closet with clothes that they can use in their everyday life, which also gives them endless outfit combinations.
It’s the most optimal way to keep your closet! Here’s a few tips for pulling off the perfect minimalist outfit and wardrobe!
Play around with different fabrics. Another way to add some variety to your closet or outfit is to mix different materials. Leather pants add a classy or chic splash to an all black outfit. Lightweight fabrics such as voile and muslin contort and create some beautiful silhouettes. Velvet against matte pieces adds a little luster.
Don’t overdo the accessories. Remember, we’re not big fans of embellishment. Hence, your accessories should be small, not flashy, and uniform throughout. Uniform meaning you shouldn’t have a gold necklace on with a silver bracelet.
Your jewelry and accessories should be peppered instead of piled on: one or two pieces is enough. A slender, delicate silver bracelet; a dainty, thin gold chain; a single hair clip the same color as your shirt. A small, plain watch and sunglasses are also great minimalist accessories.
You don’t have to go monochromatic. But don’t go crazy with color. Step outside the gray scale wheel with some primary and secondary colors but keep it consistent and simple.
Quality. Invest in garments of good quality so that they can stay in your closet longer.
Create shopping rules. It’s great to write things down. In order to dull the temptation to buy any outstanding pieces, create a list of criteria for your wardrobe. Do you want certain colors? A particular function? Material? Fit? Theme? Every-day potential? What are your price limits? If what you’re considering doesn’t fit the bill, don’t purchase it.
Second-hand shops! These are awesome! You can find tons of clothes with everyday potential for half the price. There are even consignment shops where you can sell the clothes you have, and use the money to buy more clothes to replace the ones you sold!
Some staple pieces include: black pointed-toe heels; white button-up shirt; black blazer; black or khaki trouser pants; black belt; white, brown, or cream sweater/cardigan; plain peacoat/trench coat; and black or white tank top.
When it comes to interior design, stick to solid natural or gray-scale colored furniture, decor, and appliances to really accentuate the cleanliness and crispness of the space.
This color palette also compliments wood and accentuates glass, so it’s perfect for our modern-style homes that feature a lot of those elements.
If you incorporate any patterns into your design ensure that they closely match your color palette. You don’t want to have any mixing and matching going on or it’ll ruin the illusion.
Your design, unsurprisingly, shouldn’t take up much space. Experiment with the placement and scattering of furniture and decor in the room.
The most populated room in your house should be your living room which should be occupied by no more than one couch, one or two chairs, a lamp, and a small table (and a small shelf or cabinet as well if you need the storage space).
Strive to create an appealing floor plan that accentuates a certain point in the room–maybe a single piece of wall decor can serve as the focal point. You also don’t want too much decor (if any).
A maximum of one piece of decor on any one surface keeps the room open and uncluttered. The name of the game is clean: clean lines, clean shapes, clean silhouettes, clean surfaces.
For the most part, you’ll want to focus on the bare essentials and play around with bringing your essentials into your design!
Employ uniquely-shaped furniture. There is an unfathomably wide world of furniture, and the complexity and creativity of some of it will have your jaw on the floor. Increase the good vibes in your room with some unconventional (yet minimal) furniture!
The visual appeal of the shape makes up for the lack of flair or pattern. Think about a hexagonal coffee table, a curved chaise, round sectionals, and modern wood furniture. It’ll pop in contrast to the modesty of the rest of the room.
Cute storage bins! You’re going to need a lot of storage compartments to keep tidy, so if they’re going to be everywhere why not make them appealing.
Employ natural lighting. Sun is essential! Sunlight is an intrinsically beautiful addition to a room. No purchase required!
Empty space is a tool. Look directly at the open spaces around your room. Do they make sense to you?
Scatter. Sprinkle your decor mindfully. You can create a simple pattern on a bookcase that involves having one object or book on every other shelf. Don’t mount wall shelves and displays close to each other.
Establish a theme. Themes affirm intentionality. Deck your room out with fluffy shag for a cuddly feel. Wood elements and plant decor create a grounding natural atmosphere. Get a piece or two of themed wall art then coordinate the colors of your decor and furniture.
Visual art encompasses the forms of art that we absorb with our eyes. This includes, but isn’t limited to, paintings, drawings, and exhibits. From the short history lesson earlier we know that minimalism first became famous among painters and exhibit artists. Minimalist art is abstract and relies almost exclusively on the use of shapes.
It’s stimulating in its simplicity and curious in the way that it leaves out all unnecessary elements. Minimalist art features repeating patterns or patterns of colors, big blocks of color, hard edges and shapes, minimal color variation, lots of negative space, and an emphasis on geometric form.
When it comes to 3D art forms, minimalist sculptures are usually composed of everyday materials like stone and wood, but can be sculpted of marble, precious metals, or crystals. The materials used are consistent throughout the piece.
If it’s metal, it’s almost entirely metal (aside from an accent or two). Minimalist art doesn’t generally have any size regulations so it’s safe to say your art doesn’t have to be tiny.
Ask yourself, “What doesn’t need to be here?” What in your piece can be removed without affecting its artistic integrity or your vision?
Combine the use of a few simple lines with blocks of color. This is a common form of minimalist art. Artists fix splotches of color behind a series of one or more lines depicting something (or not).
Try line art. Line art is a picture of a subject (any subject—object, animal, fruit) that consists of a single line. In other words, it’s drawing a picture without picking up your pencil. Some examples of line art are absolutely enchanting and astounding.
Repetition. Here’s a little exercise: make a motion with your pencil on a piece of paper. A swoop, a line, a circle, a “V”, a squiggle, anything. Next create a picture using only that same stroke over and over. Organize them in a pattern, interlink them, or make a sketch consisting of big and small ones.
Minimalist portrait. Draw a portrait of a person using as few lines as possible. Make a decision on what elements don’t need to be in your portrait.
Experiment with leaving out elements like eyelashes and hair strands, marks and creases, fingernails, pupils, maybe it doesn’t even need a nose (noses are overrated!). Does it need color and, if so, where? What unique traits can you accentuate?
For nearly a century now, minimalists have been challenging the conventions of art. Minimalism has grown into a widely sought after aesthetic, birthing masters of simplicity and balance around the world.
Though minimalism wasn’t exactly novel when it came to pop culture in the 1950s, its influence quickly spread to impact the lives of everyday people in America after its formal introduction during that period.
Explore how much less you can do! Question what’s important and find loveliness in the simplicity. Let the colors and shapes speak.
Do some research: take a look at a minimalist art piece, living room, or outfit, and note how it makes you feel or what first comes to mind. Analyze what about the subject makes you feel that way. Then attempt to imitate these techniques until you develop a minimal style of your own!