Minimalsim influences spaces. Lata Srinivasan offers an insight into minimalism as a design concept.
In architecture, minimalism is a style of design that involves creating simple spaces with complex thought, and restricting the number of elements to the bare essential. Explaining the concept, architect and interior designer Anshul Chodha says, “minimalism, at the root level, is a spiritual or philosophical concept that transcends the frontiers of trend or fashion. It stems from the concept of voluntary poverty, and the spirituality of Zen philosophy, which propagated possession of only the essential, moving away from material eagerness. Over the last decade, minimalism has flowed over the brim of spirituality into everyday living, with more and more people becoming sensitive to spiritual concepts such as these.” Thus, the main features of a minimal space are clean straight lines, simple geometric forms, and the use of bare essential elements for a dual purpose: their obvious and their aesthetic uses.
Not just empty space
Minimalism however does not translate into empty spaces or Spartan living. Nor does it necessarily mean throwing out all that you currently own to create more space. It’s about returning to the essence of things – to appreciate light, space and the defining qualities of a few things. We tend to clutter our lives with material things – magazines, books, furniture, art, antiques – and the list goes on. Maybe it’s time to discover the power of all that’s simple. Giving an example, Anshul says, “take for instance a wall. It is commonly perceived as a blank element or a backdrop on which a painting ought to be hung. Minimalism advocates that the wall can be made so aesthetic in itself that it needs no accessories to add to it. A wall can be given visual appeal by using subtle textures or colours, or by skewing it to give the space a unique dimensions.
Simple spaces
But can we apply the concept easily to living spaces like living or dining rooms? Says Anshul, “one might imagine it is impossible to have a living room without artifacts. Or a dining room without an ornate crockery unit. But in minimal philosophy it is the ideal thing to not have these. It is very easy to add a few objects and make a living room look like an acropolis. But minimal design tells you to move away from all ornamentation and decoration, and bring out the beauty of simplicity.”
There are numerous ways in which you can make simple objects work at home. For example, you can use simple wooden understated coffee and end tables, basic contemporary lamps, a single floor rug, and retain a single colour on the walls. Avoid the chandeliers, heavy curtains, throw pillows and the like. Keep pictures on the walls to a minimum. Though minimalist décor involves the use of few items, the functional necessities are taken care of. Minimalism is not every one’s cup of tea. But those who do decide to take to minimalist décor will discover an extremely vibrant and ‘living’ space. The challenge is to create delight in emptiness, which involves a great deal of visualization, detailing, planning, sensitivity, and a great deal of precision and care in the execution of the design conceived. Noted architect Mies van der Rohe was renowned for his dictum ‘less is more’. Less is indeed more, but you just have to know how to appreciate it.