Misinterpreting Minimalism

I, too, am practitioner of minimal design that is built on solid foundation of grids and typography. But sometimes minimalism is misinterpreting as Minh Tran states on Viget Inspire:

A generalized definition of minimalism could be when something, an object or idea, is stripped down to its essential elements. In minimalistic art in the 1960s, furniture and objects were stripped down to the elements that made them structurally sound. These were parts which defined the furniture and was translated into different objects and structure oriented art. Living minimalistically is similar in the ideas of focusing on the elements that are what define us and re-evaluating what is important. Our job as designers is the same. Our job is to craft, refine, and communicate the message of our clients through design, regardless if it is in a minimalist or maximalist style. There should be no erroneous design elements that take away from the focus of your project or message.

This comment from Nate Eagle digs even deeper:

Minimalism comes from the idea that design should eschew elements that are merely decorative rather than functional. Because you jettison all the decoration, you’re forced to hone and optimize the fundamental machinery of a design, and you’re right to point to grids and typography as essential for that.

I think one of the reasons we like minimalism, in general, is that it helps improve these basic aspects of a design since there are no remaining tools for a designer to cover up or distract from a shaky foundation. Good minimalism is hard and involves a lot of work, but it’s work that’s likely to improve you as a designer.

So be careful when thinking about Minimalism, it’s not trend but a solid timeless design practice.

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  • # Leon
    says on April 06

    I wrote something similar about what people mean when they say they want a “minimalist WordPress theme” for example. Often they just want something with lots of white in it.

    For me, all good design is minimalist: Websites should only do as much as they need to. Whether they look spare or ornate is an aesthetic consideration – in other words, the look communicates something about the author or publisher, the (minimal) design allows the user to do what they want to do.