July 7th, 2023

Simply does it...

In Part One of this series, we discuss the beginnings of minimalism, what key drivers have caused a minimalist surge in 2023 and whether minimalism is transient or here to stay…

After discussing how and why there has been a reemergence of the maximalist movement, throughout June, and what that looks like for graphics and retail, it seemed only appropriate to discuss the antithesis of that – minimalism. Minimalism strips design down to its most essential elements, emphasising simplicity, precision and objectivity through colour, texture, and form. This timeless aesthetic is embraced in all aspects of life and not just design, but how we live, how we dress and how we think, providing an enhanced sense of clarity and calmness.

Where minimalism began

The roots of minimalism can be traced back to earlier movements such as geometric abstraction and constructivism, which also prioritised simplicity and geometric forms, however minimalism reduced this further and often used industrial materials. The movement gained recognition in the 60s and 70s when it was associated with ideas of objectivity, neutrality, and the rejection of subjective interpretation. Minimalist artists sought to create works that were self-referential, emphasising the physical presence of the artwork rather than a symbolic or representational meaning.

Beyond the visual arts, minimalism had an impact on other disciplines. It influenced architecture, design, music and even literature, much like today. Minimalist architecture favoured clean lines, open spaces, the reduction of ornamentation and emphasis on functionality. Whereas minimalist music explored repetition, silence, and the use of limited musical elements.

While minimalism gained popularity in the 60s and 70s, its influence continues to be felt in contemporary art and design. The movement challenges traditional notions of artistic expression, encouraging a re-evaluation between the art, the consumer, and the surrounding space. Minimalism may be adopted by some as lifestyle philosophy, whilst others may appreciate the minimalist aesthetic without embracing all its principles. Today, the appeal of minimalism ultimately lies in the ability to create a sense of order, focus, and meaning in our increasingly complex and fast-paced world.

What’s driving the movement?

Macro trends, such as the revival of minimalism, are influenced by key consumer behaviours. These four key drivers are what we have identified as being the cause of this new wave of minimalism…

1) Chaos Tonic

As consumers tire of information overload and the barrage of constant negative media, coupled with the increasing focus on mental wellbeing, they will look to pause and reflect, rather than plug in and succumb to further anxiety-inducing content. We will see this play out in trends though simple, minimalistic design that provides a tonic to everyday maximalism. Much like fashion’s capsule wardrobe concept, an edited aesthetic will take hold with aims to reduce visual noise and clutter across 2D and 3D designs.

2) Politically Driven

Millennial’s and Gen Z’s inclination to be more politically active than previous generations will influence this new era of minimalism, especially in 2D design. With a backdrop of turbulent politics, perma-crisis and cost of living pressures, designers and artists have never had more fuel for their practice.  However how they communicate their core views to their audiences has altered from ambiguous, which we have seen previously, to more a more direct and simplistic approach. With the vision to communicate messages clearly and effectively, artists are using bold typography, clean lines, and reductive layouts, resulting in designs which are both visually appealing and meaningful.


3) Conscious Consumption

Influenced by a growing awareness and concern for sustainability, more so than ever, and a notion that consumers simply will not associate with brands whose values do not align with their own, we foresee a surge in quality across a range of industries as minimalism promotes a shift in mindset from accumulation to quality. Rather than amassing an abundance of possessions, minimalists focus on investing in higher quality items that are functional, durable, and meaningful. This mindset can lead to a greater appreciation for the things one owns and a reduced desire for constant consumption. This may be characterised by the use of negative space, limited colour pallets and natural elements.

4) Tidy Life = Happy Life

With the popularity of decluttering methods on the rise, ‘tidy courses’ being a thing of the now, and content creators such as Marie Kondo dominating social media, minimalism has inevitably become a byproduct of that. Consumers are looking at approaches that emphasise the importance of keeping only items that spark joy and letting go of excess and minimalism provides a framework for that more ordered and peaceful living environment.

Transient or here to stay?

It’s important to note that in design there is always space for more than one aesthetic to exist at one time and many can work together to achieve harmony. In this case, where maximalism may have been dominating design, minimalism then becomes the anomaly, and vice versa – one cannot exist without the other. Whilst there is so much variety in consumer profiles and their tastes, we predict that minimalism is here to stay and will continue to influence design as it has done over the decades, but it will evolve as consumer behaviours do, as we have seen in this new wave of minimalism in 2023.

In July, we will be delving into the world of minimalism including its drivers, how minimalism is translated into the graphics and retail space and concluding by exploring minimalism’s wider impact.


Part One – Minimalism: What’s Driving the Trend? (You are here)

Part Two – Minimalism in Retail

Part Three – Minimalism in Graphic Design 

Part Four – Minimalism: The Wider Impact


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