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Minimalism – what does it actually mean?
White walls, bare surfaces, muted colors – this is the common definition of minimalist. Concrete, metal, glass and wood, not much coziness or clutter, but a clear look in terms of color and design. The trend that shapes not only the furnishing style but also the entire lifestyle of many people does not necessarily have to be sterile and boring. It is simply reduced to the essential.
A study commissioned by WWF Switzerland reveals that nine out of ten Swiss people want to consume less, not only to save money, but also to protect the environment, get rid of baggage and have more time instead of more things. The basic idea that underlies these longings is to adopt a more mindful way of living.
There are currently numerous books, bloggers and influencers devoted to this topic. One of them is Swiss influencer Nicole Montemari. She reaches thousands of readers with her blog (in German) on conscious happiness and social media channels. Around 12,000 people follow her on Facebook and listen to her advice on how to bring more happiness into everyday life with small, conscious things, in the spirit of minimalism.
Her tip for turning your home into a true oasis of happiness: “Trigger positive thoughts” with a conscious choice of furnishings and decorative elements. The power of images is often underestimated, for example: “They trigger emotions in the observer and influence our mood (albeit unconsciously)”, she explains.
So if you need to choose a painting for your living room wall, you should ignore the price and pay no attention to famous artist names, but instead ask yourself: “Does it fit in with my apartment? Does the picture convey a message that is important to me? Does it underline my character and my way of thinking?” as Nicole Montemari writes in her blog. “In short: a picture must make me happy just looking at it.”
The principle of happiness from Japan
Tidying superstar Marie Kondō takes a similar view. She reaches millions of people worldwide with her decluttering and clearing out method KonMari, innumerable guidebooks and the accompanying Netflix documentary series “Tidying up with Marie Kondō”. The main principles are minimalism and conscious ownership. Her method involves taking every single item, room by room, determining how it makes you feel, and finally separating yourself from all the things that you don’t need and that don’t spark true joy.
The Swiss minimalism pioneer
Swiss minimalist Selim Tolga thinks along similar lines. More than ten years ago, even before the KonMari trend, he began offering his services as a tidying and minimalism coach in the greater Zurich area. Since then he has helped many people to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle and therefore to live more consciously.
“Minimalism is limited to the things you regularly use and love”, Tolga explains. “Items that are rarely used are more likely to be stored in the cellar or attic, so that the living area remains minimalist and light.” Clutter has to go. According to Tolga, anything that has not been used for a year, items that distract us or convey negative feelings and “maybe-I-still-need it” articles can be sold, given away or thrown away without giving you a guilty conscience.
Order and clear structures save time and energy resources when searching, tidying and cleaning. “As a result, minimalists create less distraction and more focus, making life easier and simpler,” says the tidying expert. “Being surrounded only by the really important things also has a positive effect on our minds and thus on our health.”
But every trend turns into the opposite at some point. In fashion, miniskirts become maxiskirts and bell-bottoms become skinny jeans. In interior design, the countermovement to minimalism is maximalism – a style that is luxurious, pompous and jarring. The color palette ranges from glittery elements in gold, silver or copper to gemstone shades such as emerald green, sapphire blue and garnet red. Striking tactile materials like velvet and fake fur or embroidered cushions ensure a feel-good atmosphere. And even the decoration is not for purists: extravagant individual items attract attention, while patterns, shapes and contrasting colors are combined, books are stacked in piles and shiny candle holders are arranged together.
Minimalism and maximalism in harmony
But even if at first glance the principles of maximalism sound like flamboyance, they have a lot in common with the mindfulness of minimalism. Here, too, the important thing is to deliberately position a few lovingly selected items, rather than to spend money on huge amounts of junk. Vacation souvenirs that really mean a lot to you can be placed in the room alongside your grandma’s antique chest of drawers.
Conclusion: a feel-good location – that is completely individual
All is permitted that pleases. This applies to both minimalism and maximalism: let your own personality flow into your environment. Blogger Nicole Montemari sums up the purpose of your own four walls: “A home is a place where you can reach your full potential and be yourself.”