Minimalism in design

The trend

The trend that seem to strongly persist in design fields the past few years is a minimalist and clean approach or what I like to call the Apple trend. Apple are among the most recognizable companies that produce consumer products and realize that less is more and have set the standard for almost a decade of design now.


Minimalism is design stripped down to its essential elements and it’s more of a principle than a design choice. The point is to make a design work 100% with as less as possible. It doesn’t matter if you are designing a website, poster or flyer the principle is the same: “Less is more.”

Where it comes from

Like many other modern trends and design principles minimalism in design stems from the art movement of the same name. Minimalism as an art form started in New York in the 60s and is considered an abstract form (specifically geometric abstraction) with artists like Frank Stella and Donald Judd at the helm.

Just as with design the point was to express as much as possible with as little as possible and the concept was more or less a geometric approach to art rather than a pictorial one.

Minimalist design also takes huge influence form traditional Japanese art and it’s Zen philosophy. I am directly quoting this from Wikipedia because it’s just written perfectly:

“Simplicity is not only aesthetic value, it has a moral perception that looks into the nature of truth and reveals the inner qualities of materials and objects for the essence.”

The aesthetic of open or empty space (negative space) also stems from the Japanese approach to architectural design and it’s sliding doors. By sliding open an entire wall you can bring the exterior to the interior. Negative space is a huge element in minimalist design and probably one of the most important to be aware of.

Japanese sliding doors
So what to be aware of when trying to design a minimalist concept?

As already mentioned keep negative space in mind. Because there is so much negative space you need to be aware of the balance. You can’t just place an element anywhere because any mistake in that regard is noticed very quickly and is very off putting.

Also every detail is noticed and has to be considered carefully. Every border, every dot or other element is very visible in minimalist design.

Omit unnecessary elements. There is a simple rule. Try removing every individual element from your design. If your design works without that individual element you don’t need it. Keep in mind that elements work of each other though. Removing one element might make another element not work.

If you are designing a user interface (like an app or a website) make it clear and simple. Omit using more than 2 sublevels to any menu item (I don’t even go over 2 sublevel myself).

Other than that I don’t know if there is really that much to tell. Just keep in mind that what makes a minimalist design work is understanding what it’s expressing at once without using an overabundance of elements to do so.

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