The beautiful simplicity of Japanese minimalism is a phenomenon that has spread not only throughout Japan itself but around the whole entire world. It is a mindset that surrounds key aesthetics and promotes reducing the stress caused by excess and falling in love with the phrase “less is more.” It’s interpreted through things like decor, fashion, and general lifestyle. Due to these factors, there is are many realms of Japanese minimalism and many chances to incorporate parts of it into your own life.
History of Japanese Minimalism
Japanese minimalism surrounds aesthetics that have been a staple in Japanese culture since the 18th century. One of them is the Japanese word “Ma” which refers to the concept of negative space. It represents the awareness of that negative space and thinking of it not as a void, but as a substance. “Wabi-sabi” is another Japanese aesthetic that deals in embracing imperfection and simplicity. It finds beauty in unlikely things; things that we often look over every day due to the distractions we are often faced with in everyday life. Both of these concepts are interpreted in many different ways, especially throughout Japanese minimalism.
Ma is often the driving force behind Japanese minimalism. In today’s world, life is often a race to see who can accumulate the most stuff. Ma forces you to celebrate the negative space instead of the physical things. Wabi-sabi finds beauty in calmness, simplicity, and maintaining a strong connection with nature. It is a deep appreciation that can be expanded on in many different ways. But, there are a lot of opportunities to unpack these aesthetics and expound on the concept of minimalism to make it work for you. These next three individuals have done just that.
Important Minds of the Movement
Many have brought their ideas to the forefront and have interpreted Japanese minimalism in their own way. But, these next three individuals have made their personal interpretation of Japanese minimalism known and have influenced millions of people across the globe. Their names are Naoto Fukasawa, Fumio Sasaki, and Marie Kondo.
Naoto Fukasawa is an industrial designer who is known for his minimalistic designs throughout the home. He had a different mindset than most designers. His aesthetic wasn’t so focused on being loud, as it was being quiet. His career as a designer spans over 30 years. Along the way, he’s collaborated with a long list of companies all over the world. Recently, he’s produced minimal kitchen appliances with the Japanese retail company Muji. They are known for their minimalist design, which makes a collaboration with Fukasawa seem right at home. Also, Fukasawa makes his opinion known through his seat at Muji’s advisory board. Muji has over 600 stores across the nation and over half of those is right in Japan. Fukasawa’s design stretches the ideas of minimalism and incorporates them into his chosen art. He produces many different things such as furniture, lighting, and electronics. These products aren’t just in stores, but they’re also in exhibits across the globe where he can inspire the next generation of designers to incorporate Japanese minimalism into their creativity.
Fumio Sasaki flips the Japanese minimalism on its head and introduced it in an easily digestible way for the next generation to consume with his book Goodbye Things: The New Japanese Minimalism. He prides himself on being a self-proclaimed “regular guy” who transformed his “maximalist” nature into a life of radical minimalism. His perspective is quite different and is something that everyone can relate to. The Japanese book editor used to live in a ridiculously cluttered apartment and downsized into a 215-square-foot sanctuary with just 150 physical things to his name. He’s simplified all aspects of his life and in turn, created a lifestyle personalized for him that relieved some of the stresses that excess can bring. For example, he only has 20 items in his closet. That certainly makes getting dressed in the morning a lot easier.
Marie Kondo is a Japanese master organizing consultant and the author of the best-selling novel The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. She had been interested in organizing her whole life, which made her fall into Japanese minimalism almost meant to be. Through the popularity of her book, she’s produced three others in surrounding the same theme of organizing and introduced her level of decluttering as The KonMari Method. This particular philosophy encourages cherishing things that spark joy. If they no longer spark joy, they are thanked for their contribution and let go. It’s a simple concept that’s sparked millions of people around the world to do their own version of “Kondo-ing.” But beyond just tidying your home, this concept can be applied to any aspect of life.
Japanese Minimalist Fashion
Japanese minimalism has also made a huge impact on the fashion world. Designers like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto have brought these culturally significant designs into the world’s stage of fashion and mastered the art of simplicity without sacrificing style. Miyake is known for his use of exquisite textiles over-elaborate design.
Interestingly, this designer also became friends with the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, who is often known for his minimalistic style Miyake ended up producing the black turtlenecks that Jobs had made famous. But, he doesn’t only take part in clothing design. He also produces sleek technology, widely popular fragrances, and handbags.
Yamamoto, on the other hand, is a designer who is known for his master tailoring. He often designs in muted colors with androgynous shapes that often cloak the body’s features.
Recently, the designer has collaborated with the popular Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell. The collection is filled with loose-fitting silhouettes in muted colors that showcase graphics inspired by the manga.
Both of these designs have integrated a Japanese minimalist aesthetic into their own designs, whether it be through color or design, and created a brand that’s in stores all over the world and influencing fashion worldwide.
The aesthetics of Japanese minimalism are incredibly influential and deep-rooted in years of rich culture. Through influential individuals like designers and authors spreading their personal interpretation of Japanese minimalism, people around the world are inspired to integrate philosophies like Ma and Wabi-sabi into their own lives. In Japanese minimalism, it’s all about your own personalized interpretation and what you do with it.
Take it A Step Further
Now that you know minimalism is about making the right choices, now time to make your first choice. Let that choice be a change not only within you but also a change in the world. It is time to get a Minimalistic Leather Journal with a Toolkit to make you a pro.