Mies van der Rohe’s celebrated dictum “less is more” encapsulates the principles of a movement that turns its back on artifice in the search for the simplest way to design a structure, always keeping in mind the goal of achieving the highest functionality with the most basic elements. In minimalist architecture, design elements convey the message of simplicity. The basic geometric forms, elements without decoration, simple materials and the repetitions of structures represent a sense of order and essential quality. At right is one of the most famous minimalist dwellings ever designed van der Rohe’s own Farnsworth House. He designed and constructed this home in Plano, IL
between 1945 and 1951. World renown modern
architect Phillip Johnson had this to say about the glass pavilion set on a secluded 10 acre wooded parcel: “The Farnsworth house with its continuous glass walls is an even simpler interpretation of an idea. Here the purity of the cage is undisturbed. Neither the steel columns from which it is suspended nor the independent floating terrace break the taut skin.”
Minimalism seeks purity as an expression of aesthetic beauty as well as functionality. This objective is reached in architecture by reducing form and color to their most basic level. Minimalism also embraces the concept of simplicity. Its austere and serene spatial designs seek to create an atmosphere of calm and tranquility. Minimalist architects use space as a design feature in and of itself. Instead of trying to fill space with features, they create designs in which the empty space is as carefully thought out and used as everything they add to the room. Basic shapes and straight, clean lines are also important techniques used in minimalist design, as is playing around with different kinds of lighting.
The images at left and below depict exactly the definition of minimalism with regard to interior design. (to be honest, I think they should have gone with less pillows on their sectional) Notice how light plays an integral part in not only aestheic feeling for the room but also as a design tool.
Minimalism is achieved by reducing a design to only the most essential elements. Expressions of minimalism span multiple disciplines, as well as other art forms such as music and literature.