I read an article yesterday called “Minimalism is Just Another Product Wealthy People Can Buy” by Chelsea Fagan and she gave quite a scathing review of minimalism, which funnily enough I whole heartedly agreed with. I touched on the subject briefly in my previous post ‘The Luxury of Minimalism’, but I wasn’t quite sure how to articulate some of what I was feeling. This article, as critical as it is, puts into words my growing skepticism towards some the direction minimalism is heading.
I think the core, untainted idea of minimalism is of living simply, with basic material possessions and a strong focus on life, family, friends, experiences, love, etc. This idea I completely and whole heartedly agree with and this is the direction I would like to take my minimalist journey.
However, as minimalism grows as a trend in the western world, I believe the core idea and ideals of minimalism are being manipulated, tainted and exploited for commercial gain (similar to a lot of religions). Instead of living simply with less, its morphing into living with less things, but more expensive things which are “investments”.
Also, the stereotypical aesthetic of minimalism can sometimes be conveyed as more important and more sort after than the actual principle of minimalism. So many apartments, houses, etc are now all white – with white walls, white furniture, which bed spreads, and a crap load of pot plants.
For example I was Googling minimalism to see if I could find some new/interesting articles on the topic and I came across The Minimalist website (http://www.theminimalist.com.au – not to be confused with The Minimalists at http://www.theminimalists.com). In the About section of their website, this is how they describe themselves:
“We source unique, limited edition and designer made product from around the globe. We specialise in pieces of beauty, quality, style and utility with a modern handmade touch for your home. To us minimalism isn’t about buying less but buying better.
Supporting small brands using their unique skill and talent to make things by hand while also supporting bigger brands that share our passion for quality craftsmanship, good + thoughtful design and manufacturing with a conscience.
Our collection is curated with a minimalist aesthetic in mind. We prefer a product that speaks softly about what makes it so special.”
Then in their store, this is one item they are selling – a mobile mirror for $860. Yes, you read it right – EIGHT HUNDRED AND SIXTY DOLLARS for a “mobile mirror” – wtf even is a mobile mirror?
This is the perfect example of how people are exploiting the idea of minimalism. Firstly, this business has made their website name and address so similar to the well known Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus so people will easily mistaken it for http://www.theminimalists.com. The only difference is one less ‘s’ and the ‘.au’ at the end.
Then they say “minimalism isn’t about buying less, but buying better” – uh, excuse me, no it’s not.
And this bit “We prefer a product that speaks softly about what makes it so special.” – GAG! – seriously, for whoever wrote that on the website, I have one question for you –how far up your arse was your head when you wrote this?
Seeing businesses and people like this really upsets me. They are blatantly trying to monetise the idea of minimalism and what’s worse, they are putting out a message about minimalism that just isn’t true.
And when I see stuff like this, I can fully understand why Chelsea Fagan wrote the article she did and why she has such a cynical view on minimalism. When people/businesses like theminimalist.com.au do things like this in the name of minimalism, it’s inevitable that the idea of minimalism will be tarnished. If I didn’t know anything about minimalism and saw something like this, my first impression would be that minimalists are pretentious wankers with too much money on their hands.