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A couple of days ago I sat down at my desk to browse through some news sites online. As a person who has written fairly extensively about the amazing ways the concept of minimalism has transformed my life in the past 18 months or so, it will come as no shock to anyone that I was soon drawn to the article with a headline curtly informing me that minimalism is dead: maximalism is in.
Maximalism, in case you don’t know, is helpfully defined by Fads as:
…a movement that’s typified by its richness, its abundance of embellishment and its excess of decoration. Maximalism is often punctuated with bright colours, enhanced with a sense of luxury and usually includes plenty of sensual elements.
Apparently, it’s the trend of the moment.
A quick Google search will bring up countless articles echoing the same chant: Farewell minimalism, hello maximalism and all your many accessories.
I’ll be honest with you.
Until this week, I had never heard of maximalism. The antithesis of living with less is pretty self-explanatory, though. As the Guardian article comments, “Maximalism is all about expressing individuality and personality.” It promotes a more is more mentality, with colours, textures, and patterns all welcome to fill up every surface of your living space.
Another article I found recommends styling your home as “curated clutter…carefully styled to achieve a treasure trove-like aesthetic”, with knick-knacks and other decorative items sprawled across your shelves and on every spare living space.
My long-time readers will, I know, have the same initial reaction as this new trend to me: the whole world’s gone mad.
Clutter upon clutter sounds like my worst nightmare.
Not only because I treasure my surface space, but because it invites a mentality of excessive spending that can’t be healthy for anyone.
Now, I know these articles – this rise of ‘maximalism’ – is aimed a lot more at replacing the interior design notion of minimalism (white walls, clean lines, minimum accessories) than the lifestyle that I discuss a lot on this blog, but I felt compelled to respond to these articles regardless.
How we decorate our homes does have an impact on how we live, how we think, and how we feel. While some people definitely see minimalism as a design trend and nothing more, for so many of us it is so much more than that.
And the fact is, this trend of maximalism is downright dangerous.
Well, welcome to 2018.
A time where each year, we produce 3% more waste than the year before.
Where the average UK household produces more than a tonne of waste every year – a total of 31 million tonnes, which is equivalent to the weight of 3.5 million double-decker buses, a queue of which would go around the world two and a half times.
A time where an estimated £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill every year.
Where, in the US, over 11 million tonnes of recyclable clothing, shoes, and textiles, are sent to landfill every single year.
A time where we are genuinely facing the very likely possibility that in our lifetime, the oceans will soon contain more plastic than fish.
Oh, and that’s not even going into the fact that student loan debt and grossly inflated house prices mean most millennials don’t see themselves ever being able to afford a home – let alone a few things to go into it.
And where, apparently, we’re still being force-fed this idea that ‘more is better’ by conglomerates that care more about the money lining their pockets than about the waste that’s lining the entire planet or the crippling money-anxiety most young people have as they think about their future.
I’m not saying that everyone should have a minimalist-inspired home with stripped down walls and no embellishments. For me, that’s never what minimalism has been about.
But the idea that more clutter is trendy is, frankly, stupid to be preaching in 2018.
We’re at a time where being responsible for our spending isn’t only important for our bank balances, but for the world. A time where it’s perfectly acceptable to live with your parents at 27 because that’s your only hope of saving for a house deposit.
Being frugal doesn’t just mean having more money to spend – it means less plastic bags, less packaging, less textile waste, less food waste, less direct impact on the planet.
Minimalism is fantastic not only because the decor looks great but because:
- It encourages less waste
- It saves you money
- It helps you be more aware of your lifestyle and habits
- It promotes an attitude of self-care
Encouraging people to buy random clutter just for the sake of it has no benefit to anyone. Buy what makes you happy, but don’t surround yourself with material things just because someone tells you its the new ‘in’ thing.
Minimalism isn’t just about tidy spaces and bland decor, it’s about having an awareness of what’s essential to your life and let’s face it, chintzy knick-knacks aren’t essential to anyone.
What do you think? Is maximalism a fun interior design trend or a dangerous mentality to encourage? I’d love to know YOUR thoughts.