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“Less is more.”

The seemingly contradictory idea is words of wisdom. This design philosophy of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect of minimalism, had become the maxim of many modern designers. Less decoration is more beautiful. Less function is more useful. Less complexity is more intelligent. Designers found their own truth in these words given to the aspect they choose to understand the phrase.

The “less” is to reduce traces of modifications. Design is more a process of subtraction than an addition, especially for minimal design. The design should avoid intruding the surrounding in which the design is placed. In terms of appearance and form, the qualities of plain and pure that merge into the environment yet stand out with style. Just like a white shirt and a cup of tea, simplicity is better than complexity since it will be seen and used in everyday life. The minimalism is not meant to yell but to whisper.

In terms of function, the function of a product can be simple but various in usages. A wall hook can be used to hang keys, bags, hats and coats, or fried pans, towels and plants depending on which wall users decided to install them. Minimal design is to convey ideas and generate ideas with the most suitable elements adopted, like a verse written with precise phrasing that seems to tell everything while preserving rooms for readers to complete the work by their interpretations and imaginations.

Users received “more” from the design with their senses of sight, touch and even smell or hearing. Glossy or mat, metal or wood, plastic or ceramic, rugged or smooth, sharp or curvy, light or dark, bright or dim, detailed touches are the clues for users to sense the unspoken from the expressed.

The “more” is the intricate process of designing. In terms of mechanism and engineering, although the appearance of a design looks simple, the arrangement and construction will be more difficult. Like articulating profound ideas with few words, designers deduct the redundant and go further to extracts the refined.

Styles ebb and flow

Under the influence of industrial revolution, mechanical mass production, environmental conservation awareness, and culture hybridization, the minimalism has become the mainstream of modernism design since the 20th century. Edgy becomes retro. Trends come and go. It rose to rebel against the former, then being overthrown by the latter and revived again.

Transformation, repetition and evolution of technology, ideology, economy, political systems and social factors have been affecting the current of design and the sense of aesthetic. Whether one adore minimalism or not, the aesthetic of less is more has become a part of life philosophy and aesthetic experience in modern life.

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