Less is More: The Perfect Guide To Modern Minimalist Architecture

Minimalist architecture


Minimalist architecture has shaped structures for over a century. Embracing new accoutrements and rejecting ornamentation, the modern movement predicated minimalist architecture through rational use and function.

Though minimalism is a bit polarizing — critics mock it for feeling too cold and empty — it’s an influential style that pervades not only ultramodern and contemporary armature but also innards, graphic design, and the visual trades.

Minimalist armature surfaced from the Cubist-inspired movement of De Stijl and Bauhaus in the 1920s. It began as stripping off decoration from design and using the bare essential rudiments. Engineers like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe believed that minimalism reveals a space’s true substance, furnishing it with the maximum power.


1800-1850: Introduction of Simple Living

A visionary gospel emerges in America and is vulgarized by the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

They held the romantic view that sapience and understanding can be gained through solitariness and simplicity, similar to illustrated in the book Walden.

While not stated as minimalism, this fresh approach was believed to be a megahit in the coming times.

1920-1930: The Elevated Design Period

The ultramodern style that the word minimalism is most associated with was heavily told by the Bauhaus School’s ideal of balancing beauty with the use of product design.

In the Bauhaus Era, preceptors and scholars of the academy offered a volition to uninspiring cultivated products and reimagined the part art could play in society.

To this day, Bauhaus remains one of the most influential design movements of all time, having married functional design with aesthetic pleasure to produce an ultramodern art form that could bring beauty to everyday objects and beyond.

1960-1970: Expansion Of Minimalism

The roots of minimalism in architecture are frequently traced back to the late 1950s. The movement was a response to new styles of architecture and life that were being cultivated in the United States.

In the U.S. in those post-WWII smash times, there was a movement towards large and inordinate styles of structure. During this period, prepped cities and cavernous supermarkets popped up each over the chart, and there was a trend towards the ornate. Minimalism developed as a response to the decreasingly marketable and consumerist cultures that were being reflected in the design.

Although minimalist art (which is occasionally known as verisimilitude art) has its roots in America, the minimalist armature was born away. Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia, and Japan, are important in the history of minimalist design, and in fact, these places continue to be among the biggest clasp of minimalism.

1980-2000: Adaption of Simple Living

The coming stage of the history of minimalism saw an ongoing increase in simple art and simple living movements.

Sympathizers of “slowness” repel the ultramodern idea that the fast accession and accumulation of further effects or gests is even better. They believe quality is preferred over volume and conforming your life to a further deliberate pace will help you get the most out of it.

 2000–Present: Minimalism Becomes Mainstream

Blogging came mainstream and lawyers of simple living, good design, and the colourful slow movements started using the medium to partake their ideas. Suddenly, minimalism came to the de facto term used across these communities.

People started writing about minimalism in different areas of life. Hey, we easily jumped on the crusade too. Still, while well-meaning, occasionally these rules have adverse issues.

If someone tells you they’re a minimalist, you can’t assume you know what they mean. And indeed, if their description is analogous to yours, their interpretation may still be country miles down from your thinking. A now-ubiquitous term has led to confusion and conflict that overshadows its positive connotation.


Minimalist architecture is based on the concept of clean, simple yet elegant spaces. Some characteristics of it are as follows.

Minimalist architecture
Photo by Phil Beard from Archeyes

The Farnsworth House by architect Mies Van Der Rohe showcases minimal architecture. Using clean lines in the exterior using geometric shapes and a monochromatic palette with simple materials makes it an iconic example of minimalist architecture.

Geometry and Clean Lines

Minimalism is about the reduction of what is needed, and in architecture, the essential is the form of the structure. Reduced indeed further, the structure blocks of these structures are all figures and lines — and that is exactly what you will find in the minimalist architecture.

Structures designed on the concept of minimalist architecture follow basic geometric shapes and sharp lines, yet they do not seem boring. In fact, minimalist engineers frequently produce drama by combining pruned-down geometric forms and playing with scale.

Simple Materials

Minimalist architecture focuses on reducing the ornamentation and this is not only limited to décor and detailing, it also focuses on materials. Simple materials which do not turn the focus away from the form of the structure are usually used.

Materials like steel, glass, and concrete are the most commonly used materials in this type of architecture.

Limited Ornamentation

The concept behind minimal architecture is reducing ornamentation to bring out the true essence of its form, materials, and décor. Architectural detailing like carvings, corbels, friezes are not a part of this type of architecture.

Monochromatic Palette

Minimal architecture also means avoiding bright, bold colour palettes that might suppress other elements’ essence. Usually, monochromatic neutral palettes of white, beige, grey, brown are used. These neutral tones help ensure the idea of minimalism is still intact.

Symmetry and Balance

Visual balance is one of the most important features of minimal design. To achieve visual balance, symmetry, uniformity, repetition become crucial elements. They can be applied to the layout of furniture, overall décor, or lighting all around.

Clean, Light-filled space

Some of the important fundamentals of this type of architecture are clean, open, and light-filled spaces. Using a neutral colour palette, light colour tones for walls, clean modern detailing, and the right number of accessories and uncluttered spaces gives the design a calm, attractive, and interesting appeal.

The spaces inspired by minimalism are airy, uncluttered, and have an artistic touch within the boundaries. Right play with natural light can make the space feel warm and breathable.


Photo from Malabar

An apartment in New York that explores minimalist architecture through simple materials, a neutral colour palette and one emphasized feature.

Quality Over Volume

While creating a minimalist design, be sure to invest in quality rather than volume. It isn’t necessary to spend lower on minimalist design. Choose developer lights and fittings, high-quality storehouse spaces, and so on to embellish the house without cluttering.

Multiple Materials

The minimalist design style must intrigue the people. Traditionally, in minimalist design, always soft colour tones are used but choose a texture with different like glass, oil, cloth, timber, and crockery. This design style is about the combination of form and function, which can be achieved by rich textures in a functional home item.

Standout Piece of Furniture

Find and select a hero piece of furniture, let it emphasize. Now choose the accessories and decorations in combination with the standout piece. The furniture should keep the principle of form and function and a simple line that can connect with the interior design.

Art as a Focus Point

In a space, let a piece of art dominate. In a space with simple ultramodern cabinetwork, accessories, decorations, and neutral colour palettes used, add a dominating piece of art, whether with bright colours, textures or designs.

less is more
Photo by Saudi_apt from Behance

An Emphasized Element

In designing minimalism, add an element that’s emphasized in the room. For illustration, mix a neutral colour tone like grey, white or brown and so on with a discrepancy colour that’s a piece of furniture, a piece of art, accentuation or point wall, a large decoration piece, and so on. It should catch the eye of a person entering the room by drawing attention to a commodity that’s redundant, special, and unique.

Simple Furniture

There’s a large variety of furniture available. It’s better and sensible to choose pieces that are minimum and simple in design. So, the other effects can catch the centre of attention like a piece of art.

Let The Views Speak

If the home with minimalism features has a remarkable and exceptional view, minimize or reduce the size and volume of complications of the inner space. Let the view be the focal point. Keep the design simple, remove the gratuitous or unwanted details.

Plenty of Open Space

 In minimalism, there’s a plenitude of open space in the home. Avoid the desire to fill up all the space in the room with décor and accessories because there’s plenty of redundant space to fill. The idea in minimalism is to have an open and wide space in the apartments to achieve a comforting and calm terrain.

Light As Decor

It’s also important in minimalism to use light as décor. Always use lights smartly and efficiently in minimalist homes. Avoid chunky chandeliers as they’re the worst agonies of a minimalist home design. Choose the ornamental, stunning lights that are a workshop of art in themselves and they can round the design of the minimalist innards.

Design Tips

Photo from Pinterest

Keep it simple

Every element of design should be simple and essential. Everything should be functional and straightforward, be it furniture, lights, or materials.

Choose Neutral Colour Palette

The colour palette should comprise calming, neutral tones which do not hinder other elements’ beauty. A neutral and light colour palette also results in the space looking larger visually.

neutral color palette
Photo from Pinterest

Use Clever storage solutions

Minimalism is not only limited to materials and décor; it also involves storage spaces. This doesn’t mean reducing the number of belongings, but smartly using spaces to store them. This can include ottomans with storage, storage spaces on floors, flexible furniture pieces and so on.

Minimise Accessories and Decorations

The accessories and decor in minimalist design are simple and nominal. They can be of bright and bold colours, as they are small in size and number. The idea is to let the true beauty of every accessory piece come out.

Pros of Minimalist Architecture

Open Spaces

Minimalism is synonymous with the decluttering of things and thus functions well to establish an important field of breathing in space. It allows the spaces to be airy, breathable, and, hence, calming. Minimalism works well for small apartments and homes as well.

Saves Money

The ideology behind this architecture branch is ‘Less is more’. This works for money too. As the agenda is to reduce ornamental elements and stick to the essentials, the budget also goes down. Thus, as quantity reduces, expenses also reduce. But this is not a straightforward task, except a challenge for the designer.

Psychological Benefits

With decluttered, airy spaces, our minds are also decluttered. Clean, crisp lines, geometric shapes, light colour palettes allow the mind to breathe and relax as well.

Cons of Minimalist Architecture


Many times, in a trial, to reduce the chaos and declutter the spaces, customised pieces are required. These lead to increased costs. But minimalism promotes one expensive thing rather than a variety of cheap ones.

Maintaining the theme

This type of architecture requires following a particular theme and a palette throughout. This can be a nightmare for people who collect different pieces and showcase them as many times as it might not go well with the theme.

Boring to some

Neutral colour palettes, simple materials and clean lines can be boring for some people. The monotony of a space, which is the concept of minimalist architecture, can be soulless to some. Less use of colour adds to the same.

Iconic Examples of Minimalist Architecture

Donald Judd’s House, New York, USA, 1968

Donald judd
Photo from Divisare

Donald Judd was an American art critic. The house was envisioned as not just a place to live, or a place to work, but the spaces themselves were very much a part of his oeuvre. The house should stand as it was, encouraging the visitor to contemplate and behold the object, without alluding to anything more. It was a whole experiential and sensory experience.

Okinawa House, Okinawa, Japan, 2013 -2016

Okinawa house
Photo from Dezeen

Okinawa House is a residence in Japan, designed by architect John Pawson on the concept of minimalism. The house explores the sense of horizontal and vertical expansiveness by combining single and double-height spaces within a form that is closed and tapered to the rear, but to the front flares and opens like an eye over the headland, with the ground floor level raised to optimize sightlines to the ocean.

Wabi House, Puerto Escondido, México, 2016

Wabi house
Photo from Archdaily

In Mexico, this waterfront compound was designed by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. This house is a perfect example of balance between melding of contemporary, simplistic forms and traditional, time-honoured techniques. Tadao Ando used distinct, native materials to create a space that cannot be created elsewhere, such as marmolina (granite/marble mix) as well as parota (a Mexican hardwood) for the flooring.

The Therme Vals, Vals, Switzerland, 1996

Therme Vals
Photo from Archdaily

Designed by Peter Zumthor, The Therme Vals is a hotel built over the only thermal springs in the Graubunden Canton in Switzerland. The Therme Vals is built from layer upon layer of locally quarried Valser Quarzite slabs, which became the inspiration for stone material and cave like form. It is a complete sensory experience designed in one.

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