Clarity and intention. Two words which are fundamentally associated with minimalism in all its strands, whether that be the modernist art movement, dynamic music genre, or what this article will be focusing on – spatial minimalism.
Popularised by Japan and countries in Scandinavia, spatial minimalism focuses on the concept of owning only the bare essentials and moving away from the hoarding mentality that is ever present in modern society. This promotes the adoption of a stripped back way of life, reflecting the familiar phrase ‘tidy home, tidy mind’; the belief that possessions equal happiness is being recognised more and more as a toxic attitude subconsciously possessed by many people. Therefore, in recent years, minimalism has had an increased presence in interior design trends worldwide in an effort to guide people away from their superficial, materialistic lifestyles.
Author and financial advisor Dave Ramsey sums up the problem of materialism, commenting that “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”, a sequence of issues that would not exist if we didn’t fall into the initial trap of buying these unnecessary “things”.
Followers of the minimalist lifestyle avoid buying experimental makeup products like bold lipsticks that may only be worn once before being tossed into a draw with various other obnoxious shades, never to be used or seen again. They avoid buying yet another book that seems like a worthwhile purchase when stood musing in the charity shop, but realistically will stay stuck on the bookshelf collecting dust without more than two pages being read. They avoid frivolous spends on quirky band posters, badges and other generally useless items that are only purchased to uphold a cool, edgy identity.
Through these habits, minimalists ultimately avoid the pull of the consumerist ploy.
Or do they? Yes, following a minimalist lifestyle is unarguably beneficial, saving people both time and money. However, with trends come exploitation. Businesses have begun to recognise the popularity of so-called minimalist products, taking the stripped back appearance of minimalism and applying it to their own products in order to increase sales. This inverts the very principle of minimalism, exploiting the original concept and making it less of an anti-consumerist protest and more of a capitalist agenda. Shops are crammed full of products to fit the clean aesthetic; Primark’s homeware section offers various different rose gold wire ornaments and Urban Outfitters has an array of mugs in various shapes and sizes, all being similar in their cool, muted ‘minimalist’ colours. Famous figures on YouTube and Instagram display items like these in pictures of their idyllic homes. However, just because their possessions appear minimalistic, it doesn’t mean that they are. These items are more often than not completely useless and are bought purely to look nice on a windowsill, which contradicts the fundamental idea that minimalism is about intentionality and purpose.
Spatial minimalism as a concept is a refreshing way of disregarding the money-grabbing consumer industry. However, in a world so focused on appearance I fear that it may have been corrupted, continuing to lure us into a materialistic trap.