June 13, 2024

Minimalism — a design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create a desired object, as defined by the Tate art galleries, — emerged in New York in the late 1950s, and it is still a popular trend in 2022. Beginning as an art movement by Frank Stella who painted the “Black Paintings” — canvases covered in black paint with white pinstripes — minimalism quickly swept the world, from architecture to lifestyle.

The minimalist look is the current fashion trend, with social media emphasizing how people can achieve this look. TikToks illustrate how to achieve minimalistic or “clean” makeup and outfits, which usually involves just a touch of makeup to give a no-makeup look, slicked back hair, small hoops, a simple white T-shirt, mom jeans and a Lululemon fanny pack. The goal of this fashion is to make people look effortlessly put together. The flaw of this look, however, is that the look offers no individuality, and people end up looking like replicas of one another.

The lack of individuality is the issue with minimalism as a whole. Take a look at minimalistic architecture. The iconic red London telephone booth is something that many of us are able to picture immediately. Soon, however, this will not be the case. Phone booths in London are being reconstructed to look more simple with minimalistic glass walls, so there will be nothing that separates them from American phone booths.

Architecture is about more than technicality — it is about history and aesthetics. European architecture is completely different from American architecture. Looking at design details alone, architecture can exhibit and teach cultural themes and ideology. When these details are erased, the history and uniqueness of a location fades. If minimalism takes over, we will be left with a bland canvas of the world around us. Simple gray tone buildings with no eye-catching colors, designs, images or text will be all that is left. There will be nothing to showcase the differences between humans, culture, tastes and artistic capabilities. Essentially, minimalism leads to the death of art, creativity and individuality.

Journalist Nathan J. Robinson described in an article for Current Affiars why he didn’t like minimalism saying, “Take away the unnecessary, untidy, and intricate and you can take away a place’s soul.” I agree with him completely.

Not to worry, though, because thanks to other artists in the 1960s, contemporary art also came to the forefront. The goal of this movement was to respond to the modern times we live in, focusing on broad contextual frameworks from politics and culture, themes of identity and advancing technology. It “is not merely about the aesthetic, but it is more focused on sharing ideas, and is marked by its diversity of mediums and styles,” according to artincontext.org.

Contemporary design is also not limited to art, as it appears in fashion, architecture and lifestyle. Contemporary fashion focuses on being high-quality, affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly. There is no limit to colors, design aspects or shapes. Contemporary brands are able to experiment, and consumers are allowed to test out different looks and styles, embracing who they are. Contemporary architecture also has no boundaries when it comes to creativity.

Kristen Hohenadel, an interior design architect, stated in an article for thespruce.com that “it’s accepted that the characteristics of contemporary architecture include non-linear and unadorned structures. But while there is no clear definition of what constitutes contemporary architecture, it comprises a range of present-day building styles that often look radically different from one another and sometimes from anything that has come before.”

Contemporary design calls for the consumers, artists and citizens to stay mindful of current times and to embrace change at the same time. It is meaningful and thoughtful, and it allows us to showcase who we are as people during the time in which we are alive.

In contrast to minimalism, there is no one look or answer to contemporary design. This genre of design is the one that should be the trend right now, especially with so much currently going on in our world. Do we really want to be remembered as the generation of simple black and white canvases and grey bowls as decorative pieces?

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