Saturday, February 18, 2012

You're Dead To Me, Minimalism.

I call myself a minimalist. I have to admit, while this is ultimately a semantic issue, I am beginning to regret that label and think that I may change it.

Basically, minimalism is increasing in popularity. Not surprising, really. It is the design philosophy for those without any actual design philosophy. It's like the communications major of artistic philosophies. I like to visualize this person as a man who belonged to a frat in college and talks about Bauhaus a lot because Bauhaus is the only thing from the design world about which he knows anything at all. But beyond this hypothetical jackass/straw man is an increasing systemic trendiness to minimalism, especially amongst men. I'm not entirely sure why. Regardless, they are hijacking the concept.

The last thing that any good designer wants to be associated with is a trend. Trends are fueled by talentless wannabe's piling onto the shoulders of giants yet keeping their eyes closed. That is why trends necessarily die. Riding a trend will inevitably result in the long-term failure of any design. Good design must always be timeless.

As I previously mentioned, this is basically a semantic issue. I am not a trendy designer. Everything I do is meant to either break ground or float above it. As such, this problem has no practical effect on me. Still, the label has lost all appeal. I have been driven from the homeland of my word. This is acceptable, though, since the more that I think about it, the more that I consider "minimalism" to not be the best label to describe my viewpoint.

Minimalism never meant to imply austerity or spartan design. It meant focus. The designer knew what her primary message was and focused exclusively on that. Minimalism got this bad rap of sorts from physical design. For example, a minimalist chair tried to be a chair and nothing more. Inevitably, you ended up with two surfaces for the bottom and back and nothing more. Focus birthed the chair, a well-defined philosophy was its DNA, but the gross takeaway from minimalism was austerity.

Focus and principled construction almost necessarily result in true minimalism, so calling oneself a minimalist designer is almost redundant. This perversion of the term, and the fact that this perversion is becoming more salient with the rise in trendy minimalism, means that it is lingua non grata, and as such is something that I can no longer use.

Ah well. For the best, I think.