Minimalism is about living without the clutter. In life, it is the combination of essentialism and environmentalism. In design, it refers to using the minimum amount of components and styling required for efficiency and effectiveness.
Originally, I saw a minimalist lifestyle as the answer to an overcrowded and stressful life, as a guide to improve. The same answer applies to design as well. It helped me identify what is and isn’t needed for a user-friendly design. In other words it helped me to focus on the fundamentals, in both life and design.
I now see minimalism as a bit of an extremist approach. There are merits to following it thoroughly, but past the initial point of putting more thought into your belongings and what you do, I’ve found it starts to make life harder. It doesn’t easily adapt to changes in life, it doesn’t work in a lot of relationships and the need to maintain it becomes stressful.
Where should we end up?
When introducing minimalism, in both life and design, the purpose is to bring personality back.
In life this can mean getting out important mementoes. In design, it means asking yourself what are the unique characteristics of the topic or client. This means you need to know what different choices convey. Understanding the psychology of colour, typography, composition and imagery. Then weaving these together to find the essence of a brand, the visual styling and elements that embody it. Combining these to show the coherent complexity of a holistic entity.
I believe the methodology we should be aiming for is sophisticated simplicity, a concept talked about in the book Ikigai. Sophisticated simplicity refers to a state that is not limiting, but instead is in tune with nature. In life this means accounting for the circumstances and environment we live with. In design it means accounting for the affordances and perceptions we have. In summary, sophisticated simplicity is a union of two opposing sides, to a state of equilibrium.