The concept of Minimalism originated in the 1960s and has been a prominent art movement and design trend. Minimalism has been one of the fastest growing movements in the United States and throughout the world during the last 10 years. Designers understand that design is about more than just visual display and aesthetics as well as communication. Minimalist designers feel that communication is most effective when it is brief. They aim to remove any extraneous components from their job and concentrate on the necessary fundamental essentials. It is a philosophy as much as a style. This concept assists designers in embracing complexity and producing more efficient products.

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Minimalistic living room_©ulaburgiel

Minimalistic Art and Architecture 

Minimalism as a concept has been applied not just to architecture, but also to other sectors of art and design and even to lifestyles. Minimalist art originated in America in the early 1960s, ushering in a new way of making and understanding art. Cubism and its philosophy of limiting subject matter to geometric shapes inspired artists such as Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd. They produced minimalist designs that concentrated on the most important components, such as clarity, monochromatic surfaces, repetition, and form simplicity, while avoiding narrative and referential concerns. 

Minimalist architecture could well be traced back to the 1920s Cubist design pioneers De Stijl and Bauhaus. By reducing art to its core forms and colors, the De Stijl movement promoted abstraction and simplicity. The Bauhaus movement began with a German art school with the objectives of fostering mass manufacturing and integrating arts and crafts with technology. The Bauhaus movement was closely associated with De Stijl and shared concepts like cleanliness, functionalism, purity, and simplified forms. After the Bauhaus moved to the United States and became known as the International Style in 1947, its famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe summed up its minimalist ideology in a trademark phrase: ‘Less is more’. Less-is-more design refers to reducing form to the basic essentials. Today, it is still used to represent minimalism. The minimalist design was influenced by traditional Japanese architecture in addition to the Bauhaus and De Stijl methods. Traditional Japanese design has always revolved around the idea of minimalism and focused on adding just what is necessary and discarding the rest due to a love for basic and simple products.

Minimalist Architects and their Works

 I.M. Pei

The relationship between I.M. Pei and Minimalist Art is more than just a superficial resemblance; rather, a deeper similarity in the ideas behind his fascination with primitive shapes demonstrates an intellectual common ground established by one of the mainstream philosophies active in the visual art world from the 1950s to the 1980s. Modern geometries utilised by popular architectural firms frequently attempt to blur the boundary between the intelligibility of an autonomous architectural item and the surroundings, both physically and mentally. Objects are no longer present in minimalist art. Without a question, each classic Pei building makes a strong statement as an individual item. 

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Museum of Islamic Art_©Pei Partnership Architects

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Less is More“, stated Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German-American pioneer of contemporary and minimalist architecture. In his post-World War I architectural designs, Mies sought simplicity and clarity. As he and others took away the decoration of architecture, buildings, furniture, and instruction became his tools. 

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Farnsworth house by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe_©Yorgos Efthymiadis

Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando, a Japanese minimalist architect, portrays the Japanese traditional spirit as well as his personal view of nature in his works. Materials, clean geometry, and nature are his design principles. He often employs concrete or natural wood, as well as basic structural form, to produce austerity and light beams in space. He also initiates communication between the site and nature in order to establish relationships and order with the buildings.

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Church on the Water interior_©Christopher Schriner

Alberto Campo Baeza

Alberto Campo Baeza is a Spanish architect who characterizes his work as “basic architecture”. He values the notions of light, thoughts, and space. Light is vital for establishing a bond between the people and the structure. Ideas are to fit the function and context of space, forms, and construction. Space is moulded by simple geometric forms in order to prevent unnecessary adornment.

Characteristics of Minimalist Architecture

Minimalist architecture showcases particular form, light, space, and material features, as well as strategies such as reduction, simplicity, and unity. These traits are seen as the ‘essence’ of architecture by minimalists

  1. Use of Simple Materials – Simple materials like glass, steel, or concrete are typically utilized in minimalist architecture to avoid distracting from the structure. The lack of ornamentation is visible not just in architectural features but also in the materials utilized.
  2. Clean Lines and Pure Geometry – Minimalism is all about reducing things to their essence, and in architecture, the essential aspects of a structure are simply its shape. Even more simplified, the building components of these buildings are all geometry and lines. The majority of structures are built with simpler angles defined by clear lines that follow basic geometric designs.
  3. Little to no-Ornamentation – Ornate architectural details such as friezes, columns, corbels, or gables will be invisible on a minimalist structure.
  4. Open Spaces Everywhere – Clutter is not a minimalist’s best friend, and minimalist architecture is no exception. Minimalist houses often have an open floor plan with plenty of room. 
  5. Monochromatic Palette – Colour is essential in minimalism because it helps to reduce distractions. Many minimalist structures are monochrome, but other architects utilize a splash of bright colour to create a statement.
  6. Dramatic Lighting – While minimalist buildings are so basic, they may make use of negative space to generate dramatic shadows and highlights. Minimalist architecture is devoid of decoration, although it places a premium on lighting, both artificial and natural.
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Minimalistic Interiors_©ulaburgiel
Beverly hills home_©Nikolas Koenig

Minimalism Today

Although minimalism has been around for a long time, it is now more than ever a rising phenomenon and an international movement as our world changes significantly. This “back to basics” approach is extremely popular across the world, not just as an aesthetic decision but also as a general philosophy and lifestyle choice. Beyond fine art, minimalism as a style has taken hold of the interior design industry, embracing clean lines, neutral colour palettes, and furniture that serves less as a piece unto itself and more as a blank canvas for whatever decorations and things are unique. We can anticipate this style will never fade in the near future.


  1. Stefanie Waldek [Online] 6 Major Characteristics of Minimalist Architecture.  Available at
  2. Ela Poursani [Online] Minimalist Architecture: History & Characteristics.  Available at

A recent architecture grad student who believes design and research play a creative role in shaping society while providing advanced solutions. Her curiosity has drawn her passion into understanding the psychology of architecture with human behaviour and art. She relishes reading, discovering, and craves to learn more each day.