Minimalism emerged during the modernist movement, with a reaction against overindulgence and the exclusivity of the art and design world, instead focusing on the notion of ‘less is more’. Architect Miles Van Der Rohe was one of the initial innovators of this design aesthetic with refined skyscrapers, the use of ‘new’ high quality materials (concrete, glass, steel) and an attention to the simplicity of form.
During the 1960s in New York, artists such as Robert Morris, Frank Stella and Sol Lewitt crafted work with prominence on sleek lines and modest geometric shapes. However, there was a new generation of designers during the 1990s in which minimalism was at the forefront. After the complexity of post-modernism and overconsumption becoming a way of life in western countries, minimalism sought to strip away the excess and instead concentrated on the austerity and purity of design. With the norm of fast paced lifestyles and the cost of living and unemployment increasing, minimalism symbolises an awareness and authenticity communicated through the home’s we choose to live in.
Another essential figure in the development of minimalist design, Pawson has produced many purposeful spaces including this celebrated Calvin Klein store in 1993. The Madison Avenue, New York building was revolutionary atthistime, with an open plan layout, fashionhung sparsely around the store. The space almost felt like a gallery, with the clothing as works of art, large glass windows letting in an abundance of natural light and streamlined furniture such as the clothing rails and boxed seating. Pawson used neutral colours and raw materials such as the light coloured wood, to produce an impression of grace and pureness.
There are a few significant foundations to minimalist design: high-quality craftsmanship and materials, plainness in ornamentation, an importance on light and shade as well as a connection with nature. A return to basics, relaxed design that is still cutting edge. Large windows that invite lots of light into uncluttered open plan spaces. The use of materials such as marble, concrete and raw light-coloured woods (pine, plywood) feel unassuming and restrained.
An imperative architect in minimalist design, The Church of the Light in Ibaraki, Japan is an iconic building within this design movement. Ando applies one visible material (concrete) to play with shade and light generating a mesmerising and sophisticated ambience. With no windows there is a simple glow of light that gleams into the concrete building through the narrow vertical and horizontal gaps, reminiscent of a religious cross, that arouses an emotional reaction. There is purity and elegance within his design
There is transparency with a decline in excess and unnecessary objects in the home, instead you find a clean slate to build from, a neutral palette of purposeful furniture and multi-functional design. Craftmanship was of high quality yet accessible with inexpensive materials. An ethos to live simply and focus on the consequence and intention of our space, and how this in turn alters the manner in which we live our life.