What is minimalism in graphic design and how can one apply this concept to a design? I keep seeing the term minimalist design while reading graphic-related websites and magazines, but I'm not so sure on the specifics. Could someone explain this?
ie. Strip down to the necessary elements. Throw away noise and clutter. Create a zen-like experience. Ask: "Is this necessary?" It is hard to give other rules or principles since they can be successfully broken and minimalism maintained. If I had to describe minimalism with one word, it could be breathable or an antonym for chaos.
It's important to know that Minimalism is a thought process instead of an end look. If you design with the goal is make it more "minimalist," chances are you're doing it wrong. The thought process involves creating elements that are absolutely necessary without adding anymore value-less clutter.
One of my favorite quotes:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
As with all design styles, Minimalism isn't always the best solution. As designers, it's up to us to decide to use the best style for the purpose of specific designs.
Often, "less" isn't "more."
From an essay titled Ten Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser, he writes:
LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE. Being a child of modernism I have heard this mantra all my life. Less is more. One morning upon awakening I realised that it was total nonsense, it is an absurd proposition and also fairly meaningless. But it sounds great because it contains within it a paradox that is resistant to understanding. But it simply does not obtain when you think about the visual of the history of the world. If you look at a Persian rug, you cannot say that less is more because you realise that every part of that rug, every change of colour, every shift in form is absolutely essential for its aesthetic success. You cannot prove to me that a solid blue rug is in any way superior. That also goes for the work of Gaudi, Persian miniatures, art nouveau and everything else. However, I have an alternative to the proposition that I believe is more appropriate. ‘Just enough is more.’
It means having a purpose and a plan. If anything doesn't help achieve the purpose, it doesn't make the cut. If it doesn't fall within the parameters of the plan, it gets axed. See also: The definition of busy design for what it's not.
I found this showcase from Smashing Magazine to be very informative:
Minimalism is achieved by reducing a design to only the most essential elements. [...] Essentially, minimalism is about breaking things down to the barest elements necessary for a design to function. It’s about taking things away until nothing else can be removed without interfering with the purpose of the design.
To put it simply (and somewhat bluntly), minimalistic design means design using only few shapes, components and objects. Basically, design without many frills, details and unneccesary decorations.
The idea behind this, is what koiyu's picture visualises and describes fairly well (though not completely). Less isn't always more, but a minimalistic design emphasises the few things you do see. Simple yet pretty.