Post 1 – 2024 Aesthetics Explorations
By Hailey Usher
I’m choosing to explore the Minimalism aesthetic as it pertains to graphic design. I want to dive into this aesthetic because I enjoy using it in my day-to-day design work as a Creative Technology and Design student.
Something about minimalism that I enjoy is that it can be applied not only to graphic design, but to nearly all areas of our lives. We all have the ability to “minimize” our wardrobes, living spaces, routines, and social commitments.
In the graphic design sense, however, minimalism is commonly understood as the emphasis of function over form. In other words, minimalism removes all unnecessary elements in a design to best communicate the intended message to the audience.
Who and When Created Minimalism?
Minimalism as a movement emerged toward the beginning of the 20th century. In 1919, the Bauhaus school in Germany was founded by Walter Gropius. This institution brought together designers, architects, and artists to work together in creating efficient, aesthetically pleasing designs. Their unique vision and work spearheaded the minimalist movement in design.
Image via Robern – What is Bauhaus Style and How to Adopt this German Rooted Design
Flash forward to the 1950s, a design movement known as the International Style was brought to the United States by architects Richard Neutra and Philip Johnson. The International Style emphasized natural materials, clean lines, and overall simple designs.
Image via Architectural Digest – How Richard Neutra’s Modern Designs Forever Changed Architecture
In the decade after, Paul Rand, Massimo Vignelli, Dieter Rams, and Jasper Morrison further built on the aesthetic of minimalism through their graphic and product designs.
Image via Jasper Morrison – Teamaster
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, architects Michael Graves and Robert Venturi continued to evolve minimalism by adding a slight layer of ornamentation in their work. Subsequently, graphic designers David Carson and Paula Scher pioneered dynamic minimalism through their graphic design work.
Image via Smithsonian Institution – The Language of Michael Graves
Image via Knoll – The Venturi Collection
Minimalist Designs Today
More recently, minimalism has been widely expressed in the digital form, in mobile apps, websites, and other online experiences.
Corporate branding has also recently embraced the ideals of minimalism. As minimalist designs clarify a brand’s message, create a strong brand identity, increase credibility, and enhance usability, it’s no wonder why many brands have opted for a minimalist strategy for these benefits.
Today, minimalist design follows several essential guidelines that graphic designers follow:
- Generous use of white space
- Grid-based organization of assets
- Flat design schemes (little to no layering of effects, color, etc.)
- Consistency and balance of elements
Pushback on Minimalism
With the rise of minimalism in the design sphere, has come the pushback and limitations of the aesthetic. One such downfall is that since minimalist design relies on fewer design elements, a lack of distinction can arise between designs.
Continuing on, minimalism offers limited flexibility in communication through design; designers may have to stray away from minimalism in order to communicate multimedia content.
Finally, designers risk losing critical information with minimalist design. Minimalism falls flat in terms of conveying complex ideas and concepts, and so loses its applicability in this sense.
Overall, minimalism is a unique aesthetic because of its timeless nature, and its application to both digital and physical design mediums. At the same time, minimalism is also considered as a lifestyle, and can be applied to improve our daily lives.
Article Sources (in order of appearance):
Minimalist Graphic Design – Tactica
History of Minimalism in Design – Medium UX Design Bootcamp
What is Minimalist Design? – Design Shack
The Benefits and Limitations of Minimalism in Website Design – Entrepreneur