The
Slab

Minimalism in Life and Architecture

Feb 13, 2017 | blog | Written by: Jeff Gonsoulin

Unless you live under a rock (which may actually be right in line with this topic) you’ve heard of the latest lifestyle movement – Minimalism.  Some of this is being fueled by a documentary film, Minimalism, that is sweeping the nation (it's one to watch).

The self-proclaimed minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, have defined Minimalism as "a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom."  Josh and Ryan go on to say that minimalism has helped them:

 

  • Eliminate our discontent
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  • Reclaim our time
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  • Live in the moment
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  • Pursue our passions
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  • Discover our missions
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  • Experience real freedom
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  • Create more, consume less
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  • Focus on our health
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  • Grow as individuals
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  • Contribute beyond ourselves
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  • Rid ourselves of excess stuff
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  • Discover purpose in our lives

 

The overlying theme of the movement is taking back control of your life by making conscious decisions about what is really important to you. When it comes to possessions, the minimalist lifestyle continuously asks the question, “will this (insert material possession here) make my life happier, or bring more value to my life.” If the answer to the question is no, then there is no need for this thing to take up space in your life.  Although this lifestyle challenge is a seemingly new thing, it’s no new concept to humanity. For example, Japanese culture has practiced this for centuries. They practiced in every facet of life, from art, to philosophy, writing, material possessions, and their environment.


Critically acclaimed minimalist architects include:

Although you may not appreciate the stripped down appearance of the minimalist architecture, the ideas behind the designs are still relevant and can be adapted to your personal taste for the spaces that you occupy. Whether your thing is farmhouses with old wood beams dispersed throughout the interior, or perhaps you enjoy lots of color throughout your space and love to display your art collection, the goal is to be intentional about what and how you choose to interact with your possessions. One thing we hear quite often from clients is, “We want lots of storage”, or “We can’t have too much storage.” While we understand, and can relate, it should challenge all of us to consider, “Why do we need so much storage in the first place?” Perhaps the answer is to begin the process of purging what we have. While we certainly do enjoy designing huge buildings for people, we should challenge ourselves, both as Architects and as clients to really think about all of these rooms or spaces that we “need” versus how much space we actually need.


I offer that the solution maybe lies in spaces that are multi-functional. For example, living / kitchen spaces that can transform to accommodate dining and gathering. Eat-in kitchens is not a new idea but still very valid for our time.  We must challenge each other to continue to examine our (client’s) needs first, then design the space for the need.  In summary, be intentional in every area of your life, and live your life with purpose. May your architecture be a reflection of you...and may it be really cool!


© Abell + Crozier Architects