Less is more: the modern minimalist tribesAugust 24, 2016
Simple, essential, pure, blank — these are all words that are core to minimalism. Beginning as an artistic concept, it has been prevalent since the 1960s, an effort to strip back to basics the clutter and saturation of meaning in art, back to the fundamentals of vision: line and shape.
Of course, it has since diverged from its original sense, and today, minimalism has come to represent a multitude of ideas to a multitude of people. The phrase ‘less is more’, although clichéd, is for many a very important and influential mantra. Today’s minimalists apply the philosophy in personal ways and to varying degrees of strictness, and here are just a few aspects in which it can be realised through day-to-day activity:
Some would say these are the most surface minimalists, though they are definitely the most stereotypical. Think plain clothes, simple patterns, hard edged lines, and geometric shapes. Minimalism has been huge in fashion and interior decor especially, though it also finds itself in more unexpected places, such as tattoo artistry, product design, and at a stretch, even certain genres of music.
If you have watched George Clooney’s ‘What’s in your Backpack?’ speech in the film Up in the Air, you probably already have a grasp on this form of minimalist living. Perhaps the most practical of its usages, it is actually more widely practiced than people realise. The concept of living simply is nothing new, with roots in Eastern zen and Buddhist philosophy, and works both on a material level and a mental one — the phrase ‘clearing your head’ becomes quite relevant, serving as the basis of all modern mindfulness practices.
For many, minimalism means casting away distraction, focusing on the essential, bringing people closer to what matters. Sure, you don’t have to be a total purist to harness its benefits, and whether consciously or not, it’s likely you practice it already in some way or another. Though it can come to represent many things, one thing is certain: minimalism is anything but bland.