Minimalism is all the rage at the moment. Some would say it is so trendy that it is on its way out to be replaced with Maximalism.
I think this prediction is wrong - In my opinion minimalism is here to stay. It may take different forms and variations, but since its core values are so right in today's busy life, allowing us quiet and helping us find peace I predict it will continue to be a strong influence for a long time.
Minimalism, is right for us because by reducing the noise to a minimum, we are able to focus on what's important. We are able to pay attention to detail, and evaluate quality.
The Origin of Minimalist Design
Minimalism started as an art movement after the second World War, and in visual arts was most influential in the 1960s-1970s in the United States.
In design and architecture, one of the most famous architects that created minimal design was Mies van der Rohe who's famous "less is more" phrase conveys one of the most important elements of minimal design. It was true then, and still is today.
When trying to look further back, in search of the influences on modern minimalist design, a major one is certainly Japanese Zen. From the Zen concepts of simplicity, that transmits the ideas of freedom and essence of living, looking into objects to reveal their inner quality and true essence. Through the voids between objects in the Zen garden, the appreciation of the everyday simple objects of the Wabi-Sabi through which the character of materials is revealed, and even the Ikebana flower arrangements.
What is minimal design?
When it comes to design, minimalism is about simplicity, about finding the core, the essence. Stripping down decorations and embellishments so that we are left with a pure object - either in terms of functionality or aesthetics, or better yet, of both.
While reducing the design to a few lines, what we are doing is deciding what is absolutely necessary. What is the core of the object (or, in my case, the piece of jewelry). It requires the designer to pay extremely close attention to details. To make sure the different elements, colors and textures are organized in the most beneficial way, that the size is just right, the length, the texture, all of it - it needs to be exact, and the execution of the design also needs to be perfect.
In my case, sometimes it means it takes me several rounds of design of a single piece of jewelry to get it just right. I have a box full of failed attempts of jewelry that, as beautiful as they may be, are not entirely "right". Too big, too small, have a line that could be 1 mm lower or higher or thicker or thinner. You get the idea. What can I say, I am a perfectionist :-).
There a few elements by which we can measure a good minimal design:
Balance, space, details, form and function.
Visual balance is a key component is minimalist design. The proportions between the various parts of the jewelry should please the eye and feel quiet, natural. Even when we don't know why it is so natural, it simply feels right.
This happens when some basic rules of design are followed. A few examples of design considerations:
- How does the width relate to the length of the piece?
- Has symmetry been applied?
- Has the golden ratio been taken into account?
- Is there a central element in the design? A focal point?
- Is there a guiding form or texture?
In minimalism, what is not there plays a major role in the minimal design.
The space around forms and objects allow for certain elements to stand out, drawing the eye to them.
So, a hole can be an actual element in minimal design. The void is just as important as the line that creates it.
The amount of attention we are able to devote to our surrounding is limited so the more busy an object is, the less attention we give to its details.
A minimal design, on the other hand, enables us to appreciate details and nuance.
Is the texture of the silver sleek and shiny or satin matte? Is the concrete smooth or textured? Are the lines aligned perfectly or at an angle? Is there texture to the metal? What type of texture?
This is why minimal design has to be well designed, and well made. There is no room for mediocrity as minimal design means we will notice every aspect of the jewelry or object.
Form and Function
In minimalism, form and function play equally important roles. The function of a piece - be it a piece of jewelry, an everyday object or even a room design, is a basic element of the design.
Take a ring for example.
- What is a ring? What purpose does it serve?
It is a hand ornament. Its purpose is to decorate the hand, while showing the style of the person that wears it.
- Will the ring be worn every day or on special occasions?
Everyday rings should be comfortable, easy to wear. Special occasion rings can be dramatic, have a wow factor. They can be bigger too.
Look at these two rings - Both are minimal. Both have one main form that is the basis of their design, yet one is clearly a statement ring - one that cannot be ignored, and the other is an everyday ring to be worn to upgrade an outfit in an understated way.
This is because the function of each of the rings was considered during the design process, with a single form in mind for each of them.
Simplicity is one of the basics of minimal design, yet it is considered sophisticated, because it requires an eye that is aware of details, and an appreciation of quality over quantity.
For many, it is closely tied to minimalism in life. At least that's the case for me.
Is it like that for you as well?
P.S. - Do you have a question about my design process or my manufacturing process? Ask away. Either as a comment or in an email. I would love to know.
Note to self - Have you heard of the Postminimalist art movement? It's a 1970s thing in which basically, any artist that created with some kind of relation to the minimalist art the preceded his/her art can be considered a postminimalist artist. The interesting thing as far as my work is considered is that one of the emphasizes of Postminimalist art was about process and handmade. I really want to look into it further...
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