Many people are looking to the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement to counter this ever-growing, consumer-driven, fast-paced existence.
The Minimalist Lifestyle Movement encourages people to be more intentional about what they purchase, own, and consume to better focus on what really matters in life.
We will take a quick look at how the modern Minimalist Lifestyle Movement began and its influence and impact on life as we know it today.
The concept of the Minimalist Lifestyle has always been simple common sense and can be traced back to the early Hunter-gatherers. It would simply be burdensome to carry more than you actually need. Duh! Who in the hell convinced us more is better?
Today the term Minimalism is being applied to everything. From Art, design, products, services, and of course lifestyle. It’s used to combat consumerism and bring attention to how much useless stuff we buy and own.
We will also define what I believe Minimalism is as a lifestyle and a movement. You cannot discuss the origin of Minimalism as a lifestyle without touching on its effect in art, modern design, and architecture
You can decide what the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement looks like for you or you can adopt someone else definition. In reality, Minimalism has taken on a meaning for different people.
Let’s explore who started the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement and help you decide what it could mean for you.
What Is The Minimalist Lifestyle Movement?
Minimalism is a lifestyle philosophy that advocates for simplicity, intentionality, and the reduction of clutter in all areas of life.
It emphasizes the importance of quality over quantity, mindful consumption, and the elimination of excess material possessions that do not bring joy or add value to one’s life.
There is elegance in “Less Is More”. You are never deprived when you have what you need. The minimalist lifestyle encourages people to break things down into their bare essentials, producing the bare minimum. I like to intentionally streamline my life to focus more on the parts I enjoy most.
In the mid-20th century, due to all the post-war restrictions people were eager to purchase all the products and services they had access to and dreamed of.
During wartime restrictions, people experience a lack of daily necessities. In addition, people were experiencing a lack of funds to even afford the basics.
Ironically the war spurred an explosion of newfound development, infrastructure techniques, and access to new materials like glass, concrete, and steel.
Moreover, these newfound techniques and materials were used to head the Minimalist Art Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The trend was for artists to prefer simple shapes, and lines leading to the term Abstract Expressionism.
This Minimalist Art Movement carried over to architecture, product design, and later on even lifestyle and interior design.
An overwhelming amount of people in the know believe Minimalism, as it is used today, was heavily influenced by The Bauhaus School (of Design).
They taught an alternative to product design in that era. They offered product design with a focus on beauty, utility, and balance.
The school brought their version of style to the uninspired style of manufactured products of the day.
The Beginning of Minimalism
The slow food movement began as a protest against fast food and McDonald’s opening up in Rome particularly. The Movement’s initial goal was to defend regional traditions, good food, and a slow pace of life.
Today Slow Food represents a global movement involving thousands of projects and millions of people in over 160 countries.
Like the Minimalist Lifestyle movement of today, they revisited the modern-day concept of faster is better. They believe quality is preferred over quantity and adjusting your life to a more deliberate pace will help you get the most out of it.
Minimalism has roots in various disciplines and has evolved over time. To understand its beginning, it is crucial to delve into its historical background and explore the influential people who contributed to its development.
In the United States, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau popularized simple living which became the foundation of the Modern Minimalist Lifestyle many people believe the book Walden depicts the modern-day classic definition of the Minimalist lifestyle.
I guess you can not pick anyone individual as the person who started Minimalism, it’s just common sense. Again Minimalist living is a middle-class or higher first-world concept.
Poor people live minimally by circumstance. Recently I heard the Rapper Fifty Cent describe his journey going from being poor to filthy rich. He made it a point to acknowledge he enjoyed the same levels of fun and enjoyment along the way.
Through his eyes, I saw why the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement is so popular. In his eyes, I saw him fondly remembering when life was simple. No multi-million dollar deals, greedy lawyers, Litigious employees, and a million important decisions to make every day.
I am experiencing anxiety just thinking about what a day in his shoes must feel like. Is the money worth it? Would you like to live his lifestyle? It is a yes for me. LOL
Marie Kondo leads the parade of popular people pushing the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement. Joining her are Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka The Minimalists, who popularized the Minimalist Lifestyle on video and popular entertainment.
I am going to save myself the trouble of trying to name people I believe are responsible for the popularity of the modern Minimalist Lifestyle Movement because they will be different from yours.
Just like the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement found me, the way others stumble upon it is unique to the individual. For me, it was a blog post many years ago. For others, it may have been another person, a book, a video, or a television show.
They are all valid because they are your truths.
Minimalism in Art and Design
Minimalism’s influence extended beyond the art world and began to infiltrate various design disciplines, including architecture and interior design.
Characteristics of Minimalist Art
Minimalist art often features clean lines, geometric shapes, and a limited color palette. It seeks to create a sense of harmony, order, and balance through simplicity.
Minimalism in Architecture and Interior Design
Architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and John Pawson embraced minimalism in their designs. They prioritized functionality, clean lines, and the use of natural light to create serene and uncluttered spaces.
In the 1960s, the art movement of minimalism emerged, which focused on using minimal elements in art, such as simple geometric shapes and neutral colors.
This art movement influenced the design and architecture industry, which then led to the emergence of minimalism in other areas, including lifestyle.
Modern Minimalism became popular in Art around the late 1950s with artists such as Frank Stella, and Black Paintings. It grew even more popular in the 1960s and 1970s with Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, and Robert Morris becoming the movement’s most important innovators.
Minimalism as a Lifestyle
While we can loosely agree the term minimalist originated in the art and design realms, it has gained significant traction as a lifestyle movement in recent years.
Several individuals have played a crucial role in popularizing minimalism and inspiring others to adopt its principles. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as “The Minimalists,” embarked on a documented journey captured by Matt DaVilla for Netflix.
In the mid-1990s her Best-seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo popularized the idea of decluttering and organizing possessions as a way to live a more minimalist lifestyle in today’s modern era.
It inspired me and millions of people to consider the advantages of living more simply. Many people find it difficult to edit down purchases, wants, and needs as being bombarded by trillion-dollar marketing campaigns and literally billions of things to purchase just a point and click away.
As Minimalists, we believe it’s a life’s goal to value ourselves above material things and be happy with what we already have. I personally live a less stressful life living with what I have rather than some of the intense marketing and advertising suggestions I desire.
I actually can breathe more and focus on what is more important in my life because I know sitting around daydreaming about buying and buying cheap stuff really will not make me happy. Some of the most wealthy people in the world are living unhappy and are out here committing suicide.
My rule is quality over price and never purchase because it’s two for one or buy one get one free. You end up paying the normal price and having to store and manage items you don’t need or even want.
I say that because when you program yourself to purchase under that pressure you don’t remember when was the last time you gave in to that pressure only to find out you already had the half-price or free one stored away anyway.
Minimalist living for me is mostly about being satisfied with what you already have and being intentional about enjoying life with family and good friends.
Who cares if you have to walk into a store you frequent to purchase that half-off or free item you actually paid full price for anyway? Do you really believe greedy capitalist corporations really will leave even a penny on the table?
Some people enjoy stuff, shopping, and storage units and to them, I say enjoy. Minimal living to them could mean less stuff, less shopping, and a smaller storage unit. There are no set rules or definitions for Minimalism.
The Impact and Popularity of The Minimalist Lifestyle Movement
Blogging became the main vehicle used to spread the modern-day Minimalist Lifestyle, simple living, minimal design, and slow living movements. The term Minimalism is sometimes used to identify them all.
Even though the philosophy of simple living was centuries old, today’s blogging has sparked a heightened interest in implementing Minimalist Living as a lifestyle philosophy.
Over the past decade, a boatload of Minimalist Living gurus turned a simple living philosophy into or fewer challenges, 30-day no shopping contests, 10-things to into lifestyles that require participants to live with 100 items or less, 30-day no shopping contests, Decluttering Challenges, and so on.
People began creating more and more challenges and rules culminating in a point where there are actually no rules. Modern Minimalist Living has no rules at all, it can be whatever serves you.
Minimalism and Consumerism
During the industrial revolution in the United States consumerism began to rise due to overproduction and massive marketing and advertising.
With the increasing popularity of capitalism, the United States influenced cultures and global markets worldwide.
American homes began to double in size every few years people began to realize they were buying too much useless stuff. As a result, they were cluttering their homes and growing their debt.
The desire to walk away from uncontrolled capitalism began to grow within some groups in the United States and Europe. Even Japan began to fall victim to Western consumerism and is now looking to resort back to its Zen principles to combat growing Western consumerism.
For something so popular consumerism seems to make almost everyone unhappy. As a result, Minimalism is slowly replacing consumerism for many people like me.
We believe there is much more to life than the dream of buying and owning useless stuff.
Criticisms and Misconceptions of The Minimalist Lifestyle
One big misconception is that the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement means buying less or purchasing lower-quality stuff.
I only buy what I need but I need a lot. Almost everything I purchase is of higher quality. I find in the long run I save money. I am actually a great customer.
Another misconception is you have to do without to be a good practicing Minimalist. That is not the case.
You can decide to be extreme and live with only 50 or 100 items or you can be more like me and be more intentional about how I spend my time and money.
One of the most popular misconceptions about the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement is everything has to be bland and boring.
You have to live in a house almost void of furniture and all the walls have to be painted white or gray.
This is nonsense. I can not say loud enough that Minimalism can be anything that serves you.
It’s ironic its early beginnings began in the art community where it was far from boring.
While there can be thousands of interpretations of what exactly minimalism means, understanding the history of the art movement and even the principles of thought behind it can help you to apply minimalism however you’d like.
We all experience art, music, literature, and design in different ways. Drawing on this history of art that strips away any objects that are not essential can give you inspiration for the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement across a number of areas.
You don’t necessarily have to follow extreme minimalist living to get the benefits or borrow from the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement.
More importantly, it just makes sense. Early human beings quickly realized it was a burden to own and carry more than we needed.
Why is it moving day or when someone passes on we then realize we own too much stuff?
Every time I hear about a moving sale or an estate sale I thank The Most High for the Minimalist Lifestyle Movement.
I now believe it did not begin anywhere or by anyone. The Minimalist Lifestyle Movement has always been with us.
Some of us are just rediscovering it.