Minimalism to improve the user experience

•27 Nov 08 • Leave a Comment

Today I found a very interesting article about minimalism and the web.

This is the link: Unfortunately it is only in Italian but I will summarize here the general concepts expressed by the author Daniele Simonin.

The thesis is whether the simplicity of an UI (User Interface) can improve the “User Experience” of a site (its accessibility). The author argues that the best way to “make web” is trough the minimalist approach. Indeed, the structure of a UI is closely linked to the usability of the site itself and, on the contrary, a more complex menu is not easily usable. The work of a “minimalist” web designer is to eliminate unnecessary things, in order to increase the attention of the user.

The simplicity is not only a structural manner, but also a graphic one. Minimalism doesn’t want to surprise you with amazing graphic effects: they have to be few but well-positioned.

In conclusion: a minimal site does not give much importance to how the site elements are displayed, but to how they are accessible and easy to be consulted. 




Minimalis and Japanese Art:

•26 Nov 08 • Leave a Comment

In my previous post I wrote that I had finished my journey between Japanese art and minimalism. However, surfing in the net, I found something very interesting that must add! I found this site: www.casazen.comand I thought it was perfect for what I was trying to descirbe.

Casazen it’s on line since 2003. This site is first of all very useful because it allows you to learn something more about the traditional Japanese culture. Moreover, it mixes this educational function to an entrepreneurial one.

In you can buy several objects and articles of Japanese production or others inspired or shaped on that, such as kimono, Japanese dolls, original prints, furniture complements, Japanese traditional beds and many others.

What caught my attention, was the section about design (of course!): it is very interesting because they give you some suggestion about how to furnish your house (or any space..) in a perfect Japanese style. I’m more and more convinced that the Japanese trend is one of the many streams in which minimalism is articulated. Just look at the image I added below, do you agree with me?!

Just to say something about the “philosophy” of this site (which is fully a service and not a simple website), a part a deep knowledge of Japanese culture, the following ones are the main points Essentiality, led by the research of expressive forms based on essentials and then on the power of substance.Design is based on a knowledge about the processes, such as aesthetics wabi-sabi, the rural architecture, theories of empty-the designer was found in ahead of his aesthetic research. Simplicity, because if you can get one thing easily, it’s exactly in this way that you should do that.

It’s an alternative way to describe minimalism, isn’t it?!


Minimalism and Japanese Art today

•23 Nov 08 • Leave a Comment

I would like to finish this brief journey into the Minimalism’ Japanese origins considering some examples of this wonderful contamination between minimalism and eastern art.

The first artist I’m going to present you, is not a designer but first of all a photographer and an architect.  He spokes of his work as “an expression of time exposed”, or photographs serving as a time capsule for a series of events in time. His work focuses on transience of life, and the conflict between life and death.  Sugimoto combines the aesthetics of the Far East to artistic influences derived by modern western art. Indeed, his artistic training takes place almost entirely in the United States, when the Conceptual Art and Minimalism dominate the scene. From these artistic expressions, Sugimoto recovers some aspects such as the rectangular shapes, the white light as artistic material, all revisited with the use of photography.

This is one of the photo with whom Sugimoto participated to The Contemporary Photographs held on 13 October 2008 at the headquarters of Christie’s in New York. According to a lot of critics, Sugimoto was the true protagonist of this important event, even if he was “in competition” with some guru of photography such as David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz and Nan Goldin. 


Caribbean Sea, Jamaica 1980 by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Minimalism and Japanese Art: historical snapshots

•19 Nov 08 • Leave a Comment

The French term “Japonisme” indicates the influence that Japanese art had among the Western culture, in particular on French artists.

Historically, the first significant contacts between West and East, occurred around mid-1800, when the merchant traffic became more frequent.  Japan, like China, used to be a country closed to the rest of the world, but, after the so-called “Meiji Restoration” of 1868, the country put an end to its isolation. Japan adopted from Europe new technologies and art forms, such as photography and some press’ technique; on the other hand, Western countries were indoubtly fashinated by Eastern art.

“Japanisme” exploded around 1850 and 1870, with the trend of collecting art works, particularly the prints so-called “Ukiyo-e,” Japanese prints reproduced on  wood that generally depict landscapes. The “Ukiyo-e” were particularly fascinating because of their linearity, the juxtaposition of colored and empty areas and the two-dimensional composition.  



Especially after 1870, many European artists were used to make a new “grand tour”, this time directed eastward. Just to mentioned some of them: Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Klimt, and many others. As the world of design, the first designer who stayed for a long time in Japan, in the second half of the seventies, was Christopher Dresser.

Minimalism and Japanese Art: the traditional Japanese house

•17 Nov 08 • Leave a Comment

Many of the artists that I have presented in this blog have been influenced by the Japanese Art. Not surprisingly, in 1933, it was an exponent of the Bauhaus, Bruno Taut, who claimed the modernity of this traditional art after a trip to Japan.
The traditional Japanese house is based on the idea of “wabi-sabi“, a term that has no real equivalent in Western languages, but that can be translated as the aspiration to simplicity and beauty that transpires from simple and modest things. The traditional Japanese house is designed from the outside: the exterior of the house evolves from the design of internal spaces’ distribution rather than being designed following a rigid and geometric pattern.



The interior space is organized in a simple way and it is also characterised by an high flexibility thanks to the use of sliding panels and walls that can transform the space according to the needs.



Minimalist values of simplicity and essentially are the characteristics that zen philosophy transmitted to the traditional Japanese interior design, and that Japanese art transmitted to Western design.

Minimalism and Indusrialization (2): Rosalind Krauss

•13 Nov 08 • 1 Comment

The first opinion I found surfing on the net about the relationship between minimalism and industrialization, belonged to Rosalind Krauss.

krauss2Born in 1941, she’s one of the most famous and influential American art critic. She is known for her scholarship in painting, sculpture and photography in the most important American Universities. As a critic and theorist, Strauss was associate editor of Artforum from 1971 to 1974 and than she founded her own magazine called “October”, a journal of contemporary arts criticism and theory. Her attempt was to understand the phenomenon of modernist art, in its historical, theoretical, and formal dimensions and that have led her in various directions. She has been interested in the development of photography, modernist painting and sculpture. She has also investigated certain concepts, such as “formlessness”, “the optical unconscious”, or “pastiche”, which organize modernist practice in relation to different explanatory grids from those of progressive modernism, or the avant-garde.

Apparently she has little to do with minimalism, but I founded an interesting document in which Rosalind Krauss explains her vision about this topic.

According to Krauss, considering the artwork as a commercial good first and then as cultural one, is an idea that minimalism has helped to spread. Minimalism is involved in the logic of consumer goods, in their serial process of production, in the dispersion of copies without an “original”. Pushing this reasoning, the minimalism is therefore exposed to the “world of capitalist production”. According to her, despite their resistance to tradition, minimalist artists took a style of repetitive and additive aggregation and even the materials they used referred to industrialized society. Rosalind Krauss has finally defined the role of Minimalism as the emergence of an aesthetic experience that euphorically lives its being fragmented.


“Three-Part Variations on Three Different Kinds of Cubes” by Sol LeWitt

Minimalism and industrialization (1)

•12 Nov 08 • Leave a Comment

The more I get into the dense world of minimalism, the more I realize how complicated it is, mixed with others trends and not only artistic. Sometimes it is perfectly defined, some others it is really hard to recognize if an object is really “minimal” or not. 
The first obvious affinity that I have found is that minimalist art, or better design, is closely linked to industrialization. What it is not clear is if it was the minimalism that facilitated the industrial processes or vice versa. Perhaps, as often happens, these contributions were absolutely mutual.

In this blog I have already mentioned several examples that well refer to this alliance between minimalism and industry, for example many of the objects created by designers belonging to the movement of Bauhaus were onvolved in the industrial and mass production.


175_0182         1988_781


These are other two examples of what I’m tryng to show you. The first water pitcher was designed by Johan Rohde in 1920 and the second one by Peter Muller-Monk in 1935. It is clear that this functional and essential design has nothing to do with the refined and elegant decorations typical of craftsmanship.

Minimalism was influenced by the serial processes of industrial revolution or vice versa?! Let’s check what some important critics and authors think about that …