What is conscious minimalism and what does it mean for interiors?

What is conscious minimalism? Does the ownership of material goods make us happier? These are questions that have been discussed for decades. After years of maximalism and acquisition, are we finding in 2020 that less really is more.

Consumerism is a difficult habit to break. There is however a growing shift towards minimalism as a way to ease stress.


Modernism and conscious minimalism

After World War 2, architecture was driven by Modernism Movement. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe led the movement. He was an German/American architect and final director of Bauhaus. His 20th century building designs stand out for their clarity and simplicity. He used minimal structural design, allowing for open spaces and clean lines.

Mies van der Rohe also coined the phrase “less is more”, which still resonates today. He wanted to create spaces that allowed people to feel less constrained. This is the heart of minimalist design – design that allows us to feel free and less oppressed by the stresses and strains of the outside world.

Minimalism outright rejects many ideas about consumerism. Last year, Marie Kondo became a media sensation featuring on Netflix. She showed us how to declutter and organise any space.  Her aim is to help us lessen the burden of possessions that fail to “spark joy”. This has spawned hundreds of groups, movements and social media pages that support her concept.


Conscious minimalism across design spheres

The decision to get rid of extraneous possessions drives design and architecture across many different areas. Condensing our wardrobes or choosing clean, minimalist interior décor are examples of us consciously deciding on minimalism. This can help free our minds.

Interior designer Alix Lawson exemplifies conscious minimalism within her designs. After running Lawson Robb, an architecture and interiors firm, for 15 years, Alix decided to turn back to her real passion – minimalism. Alix launched her own lifestyle brand in 2018, with conscious minimalism at its heart. For Alix, simplicity is luxury and her designs offer an antidote to overdone maximalism. Her aesthetic can be seen in one of her major projects, Dubai Hills in the Middle East. Clean lines against a blank canvas and carefully chosen materials and lighting give an open flow that reflects the mindset of conscious minimalism.


High-profile conscious minimalism in action

A great example of this melding of sculptural forms, calmness, space and light can be seen at the LA home of Kanye and Kim Kardashian West. It took seven years for Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt  to totally transform their standard LA mansion into a consciously minimal masterpiece.

The decision to work with Axel was made after Kanye saw a single piece of his furniture – a floating stone table. The quiet simplicity of the piece was what the rapper wanted for his home. According to Axel, the working relationship consisted of a mutual search for the values of positive energy and peace.

Axel used the house proportions as the décor, ensuring a complete transformation of the interior and exterior architecture of the house. Furniture is minimal but beautiful, and the colour palette resolutely neutral. Axel says that the team “changed the house by purifying it, and we kept making it purer and purer.


The philosophy behind the concept of conscious minimalism

Minimalism makes people happier, less stressed and more open to the flow of creativity. Focusing on what is necessary helps to control emotional stress. It can help us make more conscious choices across every aspect of your life. To take advantage of this, choose designs that lend themselves to tranquillity. This often means fewer pieces, but higher quality.

Conscious minimalism typically features open spaces, neutral colours and lots of light. Materials and furniture are carefully selected for their simplicity of form and function. It’s much more than a passing design trend, it’s a way of life and a philosophy for living. And perhaps it’s what we all need during these unprecedently challenging times.