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Minimalism as Possibility in a Modern World

Aug 05, 2014 12:25AM ● By Erin Frisch

Professional athlete Emmitt Smith said, "We are all born naked into this world, but each of us is fully clothed in potential." This is the soul of minimalist aesthetics. Strip away the trappings of society all of the clutter and we are nothing but potential. This is more than a philosophy; minimalist artistry and interior design have turned into a physical representation of the human psyche.

Emptiness as Potential

The Japanese culture is known for its use of aesthetic emptiness in its architecture and interior design. Much of this comes from the Zen Buddhist tradition, in which humans can achieve their ultimate potential by detaching themselves from the material world. The space that is created within the home needs to match that of the mind. Emptiness allows you to fill the void and, just as quickly, remove anything that tries to fill the space. Having a visually empty home means that it can dynamically change. A piece of art, an area rug or a cool appliance can become the new center of focus until you no longer want it. Buddhism teaches to be unattached, so these items are only kept for as long as they serve you. To learn more about emptiness as potential, visit the Canadian Centre of Academic Art and Science.

Escaping the Negative

The minimalist movement gained traction after World War I, and again after many of the great minimalist architects migrated from Germany and Russia after the second world war. In the book "The Stylemakers," author Mo Amelia Teitelbaum examines the minimalist movement of 1915-45 by turning an appreciative eye to designer Jean-Michel Frank. Frank escaped Nazi persecution (his cousin was Anne Frank) and served as interior designer for the rich and famous, until he took his life at age 46. His disdain for the world that he left behind gave way to design that was not tethered to the hatred of his past. You can order "The Stylemakers: Minimalism and Classic-Modernism 1915-45" on Amazon.

The Blank Canvas

Art is inexorably linked to human evolution. We design our homes to reflect both our cultural evolution and our personal evolution. It is this expression that we consider beautiful. One day we may want black and white curtains, as we try to blend into our world; this may change to blood-red shades, representing a new-found passion. The minimalist experience allows our designs to be new on a daily basis. To incorporate curtains and other window treatments into your minimalist design, visit The Shade Store.

An Autonoetic Beginning

Autonoeticism is the ability to mentally place ourselves in the past, the future or in other situations. When we do this, we are able to analyze our thoughts and life patterns. This allows us to feel an emotion when we see a picture of a loved one or an object from our fond past. For hoarders and some people with neurological disorders, they need objects to force these visceral memories. For others, the autonoetic process is heightened. Minimalism opens the opportunity to decide when and which memories are retrieved. It is a control mechanism for those who are well-connected to the past, present and future. To learn more about autonoetic awareness, visit How We Are Hungry.

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