Simple, simple is beautiful?

May 1, 2023

What we are going to talk about today is: Designers have loved a design style for more than a decade-minimalism.

You may not like it at the beginning, what do designers like? Why is it only ten years? A considerable number of designers may want to list, from the avenue to simplicity, Occam’s razor and even Apple design... Use these famous sayings, axioms and successful cases to illustrate that simplicity is not only liked by designers, nor is it only popular in more than ten years, but It is the unanimous choice of all human beings since ancient times.

Indeed, minimalism is so dominant right now. No matter what design category, don't ask what application scenario, simplicity is beauty and justice. Perhaps the most typical one is Weilong Latiao. Making the most down-to-earth Latiao with the least down-to-earth design has become a hot topic in the design circle a few years ago.

Simplicity is beauty, the beauty of simplicity, and Lao Bai, the waiter of Fu Inn, said so.

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But this is not the case. The current aesthetic orientation of simplicity is actually only 60 years old. The current minimalism in design comes from the minimalism of the art faction "Minimal Art" in the 1960s. Let me briefly introduce the birth of this art genre.

After the European Renaissance, France basically led the trend of Western art: Classicism, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism... Until the end of World War I, the pattern of the art world changed, and the iconic The event is the white porcelain urinal named "Spring" created by Duchamp in 1917. This is known as the most influential work of the 20th century, and it is also the first work with world-class influence produced by the American art world. Although Duchamp had just moved to the United States for two years at this time.

The artists of Duchamp's school believe that: the form and beauty of art are not important, and the value of art lies in thought. This value orientation has also directly led to a series of subsequent evolutions. It can be said that every art genre that has gained popularity is because the ideas behind them coincide with the people's thoughts of the times.

World War I and World War II were catastrophes in succession. During World War II, Europe lost its status as the mainstream of art, and the art world in the United States flourished. Abstract expressionism is the symbol of American painting. The works of abstract expressionism present a kind of chaotic, boundless, endless pursuit. It doesn't even make sense to exist or not exist. Personally, I think it is partly a stress response to the trauma of two consecutive world wars.

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By the 1950s, the American economy was booming. We are now all too familiar with intoxicated consumerism, which has begun to become the core of social culture. Against the backdrop of active mass consumption, pop art flourished. For example, representative artist Andy Warhol (Andy Warhol) is good at repeatedly presenting images of mass consumption, such as canned food, pop stars, and Mona Lisa portraits, as basic elements on the screen. This way of using commercial themes in artistic creation very accurately reflects the characteristics of the era of the rise of consumerism.

Under the birth of complex and mysterious abstract expressionism and sweet and dazzling pop art, our protagonist today, minimalist art, has appeared. Reinhardt is a typical representative of minimalism, and his masterpiece is Reinhardt Blue. On the one hand, this genre resists the babble of abstract expressionism, telling the audience bluntly that what you see is what we want to express. On the other hand, it was also inspired by pop art, pushing the artist's individual expression to the extreme. This kind of genre that abandons technology can be popular, which once again proves that the value of art lies in thought.

Next, I would like to introduce another force that formed the minimalist design style: the international style.

The international style is mainly a style that sprouted in Europe around World War I, emerged in Switzerland after World War II, and developed in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. It is a must-read classic for everyone in typography learning. graphic design) is a typical design that follows the international style. Just like the grid, a tool that uses rational and scientific methods to maximize the transmission of information, internationalism advocates returning to content and abandoning formal decoration. This kind of value is very suitable for the social background of the strengthening of international relations after World War II, especially among Western European countries, so it has become a far-reaching design genre. In addition to the grid system, any other design method with specifications, manuals, and de-decorated words can be said to have the influence of internationalism behind it. Such as VI manual, bold font.

There are many similarities between this European design trend and the minimalist design trend in the United States at the same time, but the impersonal, standardized, systematic and instinctive appeal of the internationalist style also makes the two slightly different. .

The minimalism we are shrouded in now is actually the product of the fusion of American minimalist art and European internationalist style. Minimalist art takes the individuality of the artist to the extreme, while internationalism takes depersonalization to the extreme. How did these two seemingly incompatible genres merge?

We are all familiar with the ideological foundation that makes them complete the fusion. Two thousand years ago, there was such a sentence in Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching": At the beginning of all things, the great way is simple, and the evolution is complex. Japan's wabi-sabi culture has a similar aesthetic pursuit behind it. The basis of this thought is the exploration and presentation of the essence of things, no matter whether the thing is content or an artist.

Minimalism is to maximize the use of resources, especially to maximize the use of your most precious time and energy resources.

When the objects are reduced and the amount of information is reduced, the remaining content will naturally receive more attention. People in such an environment tend to have a more peaceful mood. Our pursuit of material and information abundance is actually just compensation for a sense of security, and most things don’t have to exist.

Whenever this happens, I often think of a photo of Jobs at home. Under the lamp at night, the young Joe is sitting on the floor in his black T-shirt and jeans, looking directly at the camera. There are only a few books and a stereo in the empty house. . Perhaps it was this minimalist lifestyle that helped him save his attention, so that he could design an epoch-making product like the iPhone with only one button, and materialize the concept of less is more into a product that is popular all over the world.

Speaking of this, everyone will inevitably feel that we have returned to the essence, and simplicity is the truth in the world and the truth in the world.

But it is not. The truth is that we are always jumping back and forth between simplicity and complexity. Maybe in another ten years, when maximalism takes over, we may also feel that abundance is the source of happiness. Just like our history, there are both the simple Song Dynasty and the glorious Tang Dynasty. Even Yongzheng and Qianlong father and son can have opposite aesthetics, which has become a topic we like to talk about.

More and less are just forms of expression. The "minimalism" or "simplicity" that is emphasized at all times and in all over the world is not only the pursuit of "simple" form, but the adaptation to the needs of current life and the questioning of the essence of things. The curiosity of questioning is the soul of minimalism. Whether the way of answering is simple or complex, just let it happen naturally, what do you think? Do you feel like this is the peak or end of the minimalist trend? Let's chat in the comment area.