What is “minimalism”?
Minimalism: “Less is more.”; cutting out what you want, and keeping what you need. It is art, architecture, photography, design, a lifestyle; it is all these things and more, with a simplified touch that some may misconstrue as boring if not properly executed.
As a lifestyle choice, it works as a filter for everything you choose to associate yourself with. It sets order, regulations, guidelines to follow, so you can live a life of care and peace. In architecture, it helps to give our cities personality, applying minimal and modern patterns to our edifices, creating visible symmetry in our layouts, making good use of space within and around these buildings, etc.
In design, this word conveys great meaning in its ability to turn our visuals into instances of spacial and aesthetic bliss. It allows us to leisurely move our eyes across artwork without struggling with colour contrasts, opacity settings, camera filters, font legibility or even a cluster of geometric shapes, because everything is balanced. Everything is in its right place.
A little history lesson on minimalism
To better appreciate this art form, we have to go back in time so we can understand why and how it has become the norm in our creative industry today. In New York during the 1960s, new school artists emerged with a desire to change the ways in which art was expressed. They felt the art of their time was growing stale and becoming too academic and so they sought a new approach that would favour cool over dramatic. The era of emotionally charged abstract expressionism was coming to an end, and anonymity in artistry was becoming the trend, slowly ushering in a new movement dedicated to the materialism of the works instead of the emotions behind them.
Ten years later the movement fully integrated itself in all facets of society, solidifying itself as the new age of art for the billions of people of this planet. Minimalism impacts all of us because it is an anonymous art movement. There was no individual creator, there was a collective. Prominent minimalists like Donald Judd and Robert Morris sought to reject anything that placed barriers on the art of painting and sculpture, creating an art style that would give everyone a chance to feel like they too could contribute their creative expertise in their own unique ways. In minimalist design, the designer refrains from pouring out his/her emotions into a piece, the focus is rather on the applicable and physical components used to conceptualise the design. There is usually a point of focus, a subjective concept that leaves it up to the viewer to interpret from his/her own perspective. The subject must be eye catching, striking, engaging, and must push the viewer to engage with the piece both visually and at times physically.
How it works
To help accentuate the prominence of the subject, checking for the space surrounding it is important as it helps to decide what should be left or removed from the piece. Bright and complimentary colours also help to bring out the piece. Just be experimental, checking for contrasting colours and using lighting techniques that can illuminate areas of importance. In many cases, the subject matter in minimalist design has to be created from scratch, making subjective limitations more apparent than in minimalist photography, where a photo is always able to capture real-life moments, giving you more to see with less effort. This is where the use of geometric forms and lines can be vital, as lines can help direct the viewers attention from the point of origin to the point of focus, or vice versa. These elements can help in defining a solid structure, one capable of revealing qualities of weight, height, dynamism, and light.
Surface textures that work with complimentary colours can influence the viewer’s experience not only through visual engagement, but also by being captured or designed in a way that is intriguing.
1. Minimalism – http://www.theartstory.org/movement-minimalism.htm
3. A 10 Step Guide to Superb Minimalist Photography – http://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/a-10-step-guide-to-superb-minimalist–photography–photo-4487
*’Understanding Minimalism’ article written by Samuel Dadey for The Workspace Thrive Blog.