Minimal Decor

A history lesson in minimal décor and a treasure hunt to identify its influence in your home

Minimalist design is one of the most significant design movements of the 20th century and early 21st century. It is so popular now that people have embraced it subconsciously without realizing that their aesthetic maybe a nod towards this design movement. From IKEA to Apple and modern website design, this style has penetrated everyday walks of life seamlessly. We decided to explore the beginnings of this very popular aesthetic and at the same time give you some key pointers so that you can see for yourself if you recognize this influence in your home.

A History Lesson

At its root, minimalist design is about stripping down elements of design to their bare essentials. The aesthetic was significantly influenced by:

  • De Stijl movement
  • Architects like Van Der Rohe
  • Traditional Japanese design

De Stijl movement

De Stijl (Dutch for “The Style”) was an artistic movement that started in the Netherlands and refers to a body of work between 1917 and 1931. The movement encompassed painters, sculptors, architects and designers

At its core, De Stijl pushed for simplicity, abstraction and reducing designs to only what was essential in terms of form, function and colour. The key design elements were limited to:

  • Horizontal & vertical lines
  • Pure geometrical forms like squares & rectangles
  • Primary colours & non-colours like white & black; and grey when it came to translation to decor

The most well-known proponent of De Stijl movement is Piet Mondrian. His essay on “Neo-Plasticism in Pictorial Art” describes the tenets of this movement. De Stijl was also called “Neoplasticism” and was a counterpoint to the “Modern Baroque” movement.

Mondrian - De Stijl

Translated to architecture and interior design, this meant wide open spaces, neutral colour schemes and geometrical lines.

Van Der Rohe

German architect Van Der Rohe is widely credited with laying the groundwork for rendering the tenets of minimalist design in architecture. His designs incorporated modern materials like steel & glass, lots of open spaces and geometric shapes. Van der Rohe came up with the ever popular quote “Less is more” which perfectly summarized minimalist design.

 Barcelona Pavilion by Van der Rohe

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe

He designed several landmark buildings like the Barcelona Pavilion, Chicago’s Crown Hall & New York’s Seagram building. The influence of minimal design is very clear in his work.

Traditional Japanese Design

Traditional Japanese Design is heavily influenced by their culture of zen & simplicity. Typical old Japanese homes are a celebration of function and essentials and devoid of flourishes than the ones that are most essential. As you can see, these elements align very well with minimalist design philosophy. Architects and designers who followed this movement could take inspiration from traditional Japanese design in their works and create their own take on minimalist design. Modern examples can be found in MUJI & UNIQLO stores - which while they stock of lot of product, still align themselves very well with the traditional Japanese Design Aesthetic

MUJI Store

Image Credit: Pinterest

Treasure Hunt

Now that we are done with the history lesson, look around you and see if you can find influences of the minimalist design movement in your own home. Look out for elements like

  • A neutral palette

Neutral colour palettesPhoto by Sarah Dorweiler


  • Blacks, whites & greys

Neutral Palette


  • Straight lines
  • Open spaces – if you have an open plan living, kitchen & dining area – this is directly influenced by the Minimalist design movement

Open spaces

Here are some of our pieces that can help you add minimal décor elements to your home

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