Originating from Japanese culture, minimalism can act as an antidote to the stresses of urban life. It often flourishes at times of expansion and growth, such as in 1980’s Japan, and can serve as a counterbalance to rapid industrial expansion, rooted in Japanese Zen philosophy.

Minimalism also finds its roots in practicality. The style exploded in post-war Japan, when rebuilding and expansion was needed, and the simpler the design for homes the better. Although some cultures would view this as a step backwards, minimalism in Japan prompted individuals to focus on what is really necessary, both spiritually and physically.

There are three key concepts to Japanese Minimalism:

Wabi-sabi: the practice of finding value in natural forms

Seijaku: a meditative state achieved through design

Ma: open, empty forces encourage contemplation of essential forces

Minimalism attempts to craft “wow factor” by embracing the basic elements of architecture and design, and emerged in America as a response to abstract expressionism in the 1960s. Minimalism in home design focuses on features such as monotone colour schemes, open spaces and using hard lines and edges to create beauty from simplicity.

Minimalism is often a polarising style, and can very much split opinions on a space. However, when done well, a minimalist style can create a serene and mesmerising interior that is unlike any other. Minimalist design can also be extremely practical for those with kids or otherwise busy homes, as one of the principle functions of minimalism is embracing open space, and avoiding over-saturation in your interiors.

Although minimalism focuses on stripping back spaces to their basic elements, that isn’t to say that your home has to be completely bare. Minimalism, like any style, is open to your own interpretation, and many view minimalism as stripping away any element that doesn’t enhance the natural beauty of a space. This means that you can still use ornaments and decorative elements to enhance your home, but avoid any messy presentation or clutter.

Minimalism as a philosophy has trickled into all walks of life, and can be seen to have taken hold across several aspects of society. Apple and Calvin Klein are two brands that can be seen to have embraced minimal aesthetics and turn them into their key principles: monotone colours and sleek edges become synonymous with high quality technology and underwear respectively. In the modern world, minimalist approaches have become associated with professionalism and high standards, an ethos that many have sought to recreate in their own homes.

Scandinavian minimalism

Another region that has influenced minimalist culture is Scandinavia. Although the principles and execution of Minimalism are similar here, Scandinavian minimalism was born more out of practicality than the spirituality of Japanese Minimalism, and it prioritises endurance and comfort in a harsh environment.

Scandinavian Minimalism takes inspiration from old Nordic principles, and prioritises finding joy in the little things rather than materialism.

In Denmark and Norway, Hygge refers to prioritising comfort and warmth, as well as efficiency. Hygge transcends aesthetics, and many in Norway and Denmark practice Hygge by meeting with friends or family and enjoying food or quality time, practicing grace and staying grateful for their lives. This philosophy can be seen channelled through Scandinavian interior aesthetics, prioritising rustic, warm colours and cosy, comfortable spaces.

Scandinavian Minimalism differs from traditional minimalism in its end goals. It isn’t concerned so much with an end product as with stripping away elements that aren’t strictly necessary, creating beauty by doing so. Items that provide nourishment for the home, from a stylistic or emotional sense, still serve a purpose and don’t have to be excluded. Traditional minimalist endeavours and Scandinavian Minimalism are united by a joint desire to achieve simplicity, to promote making the most of internal space rather than filling it with needless elements.

Colour in Minimalism

You’d be forgiven for thinking that colour was absent from the conversation when it comes to minimalist design, as a quick google search will almost definitely return strictly monotone white interiors. However, when taking your own home in a minimalist direction, it’s important to remember that you have the final say on your palette, and there are several minimalist ways to include colour in your home. Scandinavian Minimalism focuses on warm, natural shades rather than opaque whiteness, so there’s plenty of variation for you to take inspiration from.

What you should stay away from when intertwining colour and minimalism is clashing, sporadic colour that doesn’t coordinate with the overall aesthetic. The single tone colour scheme that often accompanies a minimalist style is perfect for accentuating statement pieces, ornaments or art that can stand out from the room and grab attention. Although minimalism aims to reduce elements and features, in doing so it lends gravity to the pieces that persist, and if focusing your decoration into a few focal points rather than bombarding guests with an array of ideas sounds like your style, minimalism could be for you.

In terms of overall colour schemes, white is the dominant choice, its ambience being the core of the principles that minimalism functions by. The lack of colour creates a tranquil, still feeling that promotes calm, and provides a perfect blank canvas to place exciting features that leap out at guests. Although white is considered the quintessential minimalist colour, the real focus is on the singularity of your palette. A room could be bright yellow and still be minimalist. In fact, natural colours such as blue, green and yellow tie in well with the endeavours of Japanese Minimalism in attempting to embrace nature.

Minimalism is a global style that transcends cultures, and there are several different interpretations of the style, each with their own subtle differences. The end goal of all of these styles however, remains unchanged: simplicity. Whether it is to achieve durable, comfortable, spaces, or pr                                                  omote a deeper search for meaning within the lack of distraction, minimalism is a style that offers a wide array of options, while maintaining a singular identity.