I’ve been looking around to get some ideas to redecorate my apartment lately and I’ve heard a lot of people talk about “minimalist” style or design.

Is this actually a formal school of design? Many people seem to use it to mean “not much stuff” or “plain”, but other seem to be describing something with more structure.

I like the “not much stuff” look, but don’t want to seem pretentious or stupid by using terminology I don’t really understand when I’m talking with people who do this sort of thing for a living.

If it is a well defined school, does anyone have any sites where I could learn more about it?

Besides, “not a lot of stuff”, minimalism is also about shapes and colors. In other words, a beanbag chair, a TV sitting on a milk crate, a futon and a door laying on two cinder blocks as a table isn’t minialism - it’s more “faux hovel”. Rather, minimalism is expressed in simple shapes and forms, a small range of colors (usually black, but if you did all shades of blue in a white room that’d be the same idea), and of course a small amount of forms in the first place. Think clean. Think art gallery. Think… ummm… Pottery Barn or something :wink:

“I guess one person can make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”


Sounds more like real hovel to me…

Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

I see no need to define your taste to those in the design community. If you like the not much stuff look, go with it. Hell if any one asks, call it “21st century Goodwill”, (robbing Doonsbury) or create yor own term.

Individualism is just that, joke around about it, but be clear that this is YOUR home, YOUR art. Most of the artsy fartsy types will respect this or just back off.

Of course you’re absolutely right, EvilGhandi. It’s my place I am allowed to have exactly what I want in it, dammit! :slight_smile:

But I thought that if what I do in fact like coincides with a well defined term, it would be a useful shorthand. And anyway, it couldn’t hurt to learn about something new. :slight_smile:

Here are a couple of books on the subject that are sure to expand your minimalist vocabulary (if that isn’t a paradoxical goal, I don’t know what is)

I cannot vouch for the quality of these books, but from what I know, they will give you a good starting place at least for discussion of minimalism as an aesthetic ‘movement.’

Cerver, Francisco Asensio. “The Architecture of Minimalism.” (Hearst, 1988)

Pawson, John. “Minimum.” (Phaidon, 2000)

Ypma, Herbert. “London Minimum.” (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 1996)

Thanks Dystopos, that’s perfect. I’ll search for those books on the weekend.

If you know of any more resources (books, net, whatever) send 'em my way. :slight_smile:

I don’t know if these quotes clarify or confuse things…

Crusoe Takes A Trip

Interesting quotes, Mattk. Where did you get them from?

The beanbag chair, milk crate, and futon really only count as “minimalism” if you’ve paid $4000 each for them at a trendy shop.

There is also a minimalist style or school in music, with Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Terry Riley as the major composers. The same aesthetic as mattk described; simplicity.

Posted by EvilGhandi:

“‘21st century Goodwill’, (robbing Doonsbury)”

I’m just surprised someone is actually reading Doonsbury.

Ah…MrWhy…I was hoping nobody would ask that. I just found random quotes by searching the web. I think the latter is from an art history student’s essay.

Crusoe Takes A Trip

I thought “minimalism” had some kind of connection to Zen philosophy, like the plain and abstract gravel gardens inspiring Buddhist monks in their meditations. Or something like that. Er, never mind, I’m rambling.


This is a minimalist message.

Kurt Vonnegut pokes fun at minimalism in Breakfast of Champions. In the novel, the painter Rabo Karabekian draws a vertical line on a canvas and calls the painting * The Temptation of Saint Anthony*, without knowing who Saint Anthony is. After being criticized for painting like a five-year-old, Karabekian justifies the painting with some theory about how the line represents the sacred part of humanity, which he calls, “unwavering bands of light.”