Chapter 2: Design doesn't matter

Yes you read it right. When it comes to the kind of Minimalism we're discussing here, I think design is irrelevant. It really is. Now, Carl will almost certainly disagree with me on this point and that's ok. There's no right way to proceed down this minimalist path so it's ok to disagree sometimes.

Let me explain why I don't think design matters in this context. When I say design what I'm referring to is the visual aspect of things. I'm not talking about design in the more broad sense of the world. I'm using the layman's version of the term—which is probably misused, more on that here—to describe just a subset of the characteristics that any particular object possess.

Just to be clear, design does matter in absolute terms. You want objects to be functional, well designed, and to perform well. It's the visual component that is not important in the grand scheme of things and it's certainly not important in the context of the discussion we're having here. But that does not mean that aesthetics don't matter at all, because they certainly do.

Now, if I ask you to picture in your mind a minimal house, what would that house look like? If you've browsed a couple of blogs you're probably thinking at something like this:

Image borrowed from Minimalissimo.com

And what about the interior? if I ask you to picture a minimal living room you'd probably imagine something similar to this:

Also borrowed from Minimalissimo.com

Are those two valid representations of what—to me—minimalism is all about? Maybe. It's certainly possible but it might also not be the case. As a counter example, how about this house?

Image from Cabinporn.com

And how about this room?

Are the last two examples of minimalism? Again, it's possible. In my opinion both styles are equally valid expressions of what minimalism is all about. It just so happens that one of the two is more "visually minimal" if we want to define it that way. But that's just an accident. You can have a big house full of "minimal design objects" that serve no purpose and you can also have a very uncluttered home without a single "design object". That's why I said that design doesn't really matter in this context.

As discussed in the previous chapter, minimalism is a matter of intent. Nothing less, nothing more. And if you love a certain type of design style and love curation that's good. That's awesome. If you want your house to be monochromatic go for it. There's nothing wrong with that. But don't think that's the only way to approach design with a minimalist spirit.

You can "be a minimalist" and live in a colourful home. Don't let anyone say otherwise.


This is Chapter 2 of the Manu's Guide To Minimalism. Links to the other chapters are down below.