It has yet again become a respected trend; a lifestyle nearly worshipped by many milennials and baby-boomers alike. Similar to its equivalents – the crossfit and vegan movements – the minimalist movement has not only resurfaced, but it has found its way into America’s mainstream culture and has simultaneously become a fountain from which droves of 18-34 year olds have come to glean tips and tricks of the seemingly effortless lifestyle. This new wave of the movement stems from what appears to be a generation of young people dissatisfied with the adult America they’ve been encouraged to enter. As a result, some milennials have recreated a corresponding culture by rejecting excess and embracing freedom instead. As with all alternative movements, minimalists have garnered criticism, this time by economists and ardent consumers alike who worry about the effects of minimalism on the economy, among other things.
From tiny homes to capsule wardbrobes, the movement that began long ago has reinvented itself. It has become much more than the notion that less is more and has more depth than the fads like it. In its purest form, the minimalist movement actually centers itself on obtaining freedom from any thing or possession standing in the way of living an intentional life. That is to say, minimalism encourages freedom only from that which is inhibiting growth, personal liberty and ultimately, happiness.
Minimialism found its beginning in art and architecture and despite countless sectors of the movement sprouting up from the soil of all industries, art and design still appear to be the root of its growth and the ground upon which it stays standing. Understandably so, art and design greatly influence quality of life, as much of a person’s daily experience depends on the way he or she navigates and interacts with design. From the basic structure of a house to the color of the walls holding it together, design affects the usability and overall function of a space, of course, but it can also influence mood, illicit feeling, inspire beauty and ultimately provide a sense of freedom. That is the essence of minimalism manifesting itself in design.
Inspired by and featuring characteristics of the minimalist design movement is the slow home movement. The slow home movement encompasses simplifying, decluttering and intentionally designing living spaces that foster appreciation, awareness and freedom. It encourages eliminating excess in order to make room for that which is useful and important. Whether it’s putting down the cell phone or picking up a good book, the movement also aims to elminate distractions and instead focus on a lifesyle change that mirrors minimalism in many ways.
Similar to minimalist design, a slow home should contain enough space to move freely but not more than is necessary to be comfortable. Slow kitchens, for example, typically offer a decent amount of counter space and a thoughtful arrangement between the stove, fridge and sink to make cooking as effortless as possible. One of the most important concepts in designing a slow home is incorporating plenty of natural light in the space. Not only is natural light a mood-lifter, it is the most effective way to minimize the costs of lighting and heating.
Simplification is another method included in both the slow home and minimalist movement. While slow homes are not as radically simplified as minimalist design would probably encourage, the method focuses more on getting rid of any unwanted or unitilized items to either provide more unused space or make room for more necessities. Advocates of the slow home movement advise walking around each room in a home to pick up everything that does not belong where it is. As each room is finished, divide the items into piles that are necessary and those that are not. For items that are no longer needed, designate a holding space for them close to the door in order to remember to dispose of them upon leaving. Things that have been determined as necessary, make sure to put them in the right place in order to prevent stress and instead foster a sense of peace. Do not allow piles of items to accumulate in places they don’t belong. Create white space and enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from knowing everything is in its rightful place.
Lastly, slow homes encourage mindfulness and list gratitude, recognizing worth and living in the moment as ways to express it. Much like miniminalist design, slow homes that are designed well should inspire a sense of appreciation for material possessions and how they contribute to the ease of life without placing too much importance on them. Slow homes should also help to cultivate feelings of gratitude for the people within the home and the environment should ideally stimulate conversation and trigger feelings of relaxation.