Minimal doesn't mean white. Well, not all the time. I came across the above poster on Pinterest some time ago and it really struck a chord with me. I feel quite strongly that what this poster says is true. Bear with me.
There is a general (mis)conception that the word 'minimal' is synonymous with the colour white. The word minimal often conjures images of cold, bleak, empty, utilitarian, clinical, boring, impersonal.
What the word minimal means to me has nothing whatsoever to do with colour. My interpretation of minimal is unfussy, uncluttered, designed, organised, considered, selected, calming, clean, spacious, light.
As you can see above, these interiors are all uncluttered, unfussy, well designed, well organised, considered, calm, clean, spacious and lighting has been used/not used to set the desired atmosphere. These rooms are all minimal. The items within the spaces have been carefully selected with no excess or unnecessary items. Everything in the spaces has a purpose. When looking at these images it is also apparent that there is little or no pattern. Block colours and plain surfaces are key to achieving minimalism, while textures and colours are introduced to add interest and personality.
That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with patterns, or white. Minimalism is just one of many styles I like. The level of desired minimalism is entirely subjective of course.
Less is more
A very common phrase, popularised by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. What this really means is you can fill a room with things and lose sight of the original intention. If you remove all the unessential things from the room, you are left with the fundamental design. Adding and subtracting things from rooms makes a huge difference. The same can be said for adding and subtracting things from your life, your bag, your fridge, your calendar, your wardrobe etc. 'Less is more' applies to lifestyle too. Minimalism fundamentally means less is more.
Form over function
"Less but better", an expression coined by designer, Dieter Rams (and adopted by Steve Jobs). If something has no function it really doesn't matter the form. If something does have a function then the experience of using it is as important as the form or aesthetics of it (unless it's a piece of art, obviously). Take the iPod® for example, it's so simple to use and as simple in it's appearance - this arguably, is the key to minimalism. Nothing more, no excess and probably, no frills. Minimalism is form AND function. FYI, Dieter Rams '10 principles for good design' are listed >here<
Minimalist fashion has the same principles as other design disciplines. Less is more in fashion does not (necessarily) mean scantily clad people. Acne®, COS® et al are all ambassadors of minimal fashion. It's not all black, futuristic or boring.
Classic and iconic
Be it architecture, fashion or other designs, I don't believe it's coincidence designs that stand the test of time are essentially minimalist. Chanel® No.5®, Apple Inc®, mid 20th century furniture, Raybans®, the bicycle and the pencil, are all timeless and as popular today as the day they were launched - because they are well designed, well made and aesthetically pleasing things. Again, it's no coincidence that most of these items are considered luxury and are largely expensive. That's ok. If you're a true minimalist you only need one of each!
I touched on the subject of minimalism being a lifestyle choice. It's true. I'm no psychologist but 'decluttering' or 'Life laundry' can really impact your environment, relationships, productivity and more. There's a great blog post by Kate at House Mix on how you can make a start to minimal-ise your home >here<. Or take a look at this poster below for some minimal lifestyle inspiration...
How many days can you do? Day 1 is tricksy. I'm on Day 4, can't complain.