Minimalism: Is Less Really More?

Chloe Tong
3 June, 2020

Minimalism is a trend that has been going on for a while now, and I, for one, have jumped on the bandwagon for its clean aesthetic. I’ve browsed through all of these blogs and articles on the Minimalism lifestyle. I threw away possessions that do not ‘spark joy’, as Marie Kondo would say. Yet, I also find myself buying more things in order to fit into this lifestyle. Somehow in my pursuit for Minimalism, I was consuming more than I ever was. So it got me thinking: does owning less really constitute ‘living more’?

Photo by Spencer on Unsplash

Minimalism in its Conception

Die Fahne Hoch! by Frank Stella (1959)

Minimalism in its infancy is a Post-WWII art movement that took over the US in the 1960’s to70’s, where the absence of unnecessary features was greatly appreciated. This current resurgence, dubbed New Minimalism, is less of an art movement but more a lifestyle. It has perhaps taken root in Silicon Valley during the 1980s from Steve Job’s famously bare apartment.

Photo by Sia Moore on Unsplash

The core thought is that with fewer material possessions, you’ll be able to truly pursue your dream or goals. If you just get rid of your furniture and your car, perhaps you’ll run a multi-billion dollar company like Jobs. Is it an idea that’s inherently bad? Not really. But has it been overly romanticised? Possibly.

New Minimalism: Purely an Aesthetic?

Right now, New Minimalism is treated more as an aesthetic. Most posts you see on social media hashtagged ‘Minimalism’ are influencers showing off their white marble kitchens, or minimalist advocates displaying a living room with a designer couch, a 4K smart TV along with a top quality sound system.

Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash

There is nothing wrong with going for an aesthetic you like, you do you! But it’s important to acknowledge that you are in a position of privilege to be able to lead your ideal lifestyle. There are those in the world that are living with few possessions not by choice, but because of circumstances like war and poverty. We should be aware of that. 

Often, in pursuit of what we want, we have ignored what is happening in the world. I know I have. I was buying and gushing over ‘minimalistic’ clothes, decor and things as I was in a frenzy to keep up with the trend. And truth be told, I still do sometimes! Again, it’s alright. All I’m saying is that we should take a step back to see the bigger picture.

Why Still Minimalism?

Don’t get me wrong, I still do love minimalistic designs. But New Minimalism shouldn’t just be a sought after aesthetic, but a change in perspective. Minimalism is about moderation. Less is definitely more when you live only with what you need, when you lead a lifestyle that pertains to your socioeconomic status.

You don’t have to sell everything and live off a backpack to be a true minimalist. And you certainly don’t have to spend half of your savings to recreate how someone decorated their bathroom on Instagram. Like the original art movement, New Minimalism should be appreciating the absence of unnecessary features in your life.

How to Minimalism Then?

‘Purge everything you don’t need and find renewed purpose in your life.’ That’s probably how most minimalist websites introduce minimalism. They’re not wrong, but again, this shouldn’t only apply to your possessions, but to other aspects in your life.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

But it should move further than that. Have a ‘bad’ habit that wouldn’t hurt to stop? Try doing away with it. Is there something you do purely for the sake of fitting in, because you ‘feel like you need to’? Maybe consider ditching it. What is ‘bad’ or ‘unnecessary’ is up to you. You should make these decisions based on yourself and in your own time.

But it is by getting rid of these things that you can truly free up time and space to pursue something that you really want to do in life. And that, in my opinion, is what Minimalism should be.

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