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Maximalism vs minimalism: is less really more?

A century later, the roaring 20s are back in full swing – and we couldn’t be more excited! After surviving a global pandemic (and all the nuttiness that came along with it), we’re now witnessing a gorgeous trend of folks coming alive again and living their beautiful lives to the fullest. 

Whether it’s travel, dancing, or getting outside to enjoy a meal on a patio, we’re so genuinely happy to see people out and about celebrating this precious gift of life. And these days at Carte Blanche Studio, we’ve also been enjoying life and expressing ourselves in ways we haven’t been able to in a while. 

While we love a good minimalist aesthetic (just check out our Instagram and our portfolio), we realized we needed a name for this new lively, joyful movement. We’re borrowing the term maximalism (originally coined by art historian Robert Pincus-Witten), and we’re encouraging you to try it.

What is maximalism?

A direct reaction against minimalism, maximalism is the aesthetic of excess. In art philosophy, maximalism means more is more and more of everything, please! More of your favourite literature, art, music, colours, fabrics, patterns and accessories. 

Maximalism’s profound impact is most prevalent in postmodern literature and music. Think of Kayne West’s 2010 album My Dark and Twisted Fantasy – where West embraces many different genres, ideas, and moods. No one song resembles another, creating a rich, full, and colourful sound. Or, consider the late David Foster Wallace’s outrageously popular 1996 novel, Infinite Jest. Equal parts screwball comedy and existential quest, the gargantuan novel (all 1,000+ pages) is maddening, hilarious, but oh so unique.

And uniqueness is where our new, updated definition of maximalism begins. For us, it’s vibrant, bold, and beautiful. It’s about celebrating YOU – your quirks, your brand, your unique style. It’s about filling up your soul with everything you love to the brim. It’s about living in the moment, bringing the light in, and savouring every last drop. It’s a philosophy that extends beyond art, history, and design and resonates on a much deeper level (especially in these times). 

But wait! What about our beloved minimalism?

Don’t worry if you love a clean, crisp aesthetic (we feel the same!). When presented with stark lines and stunning neutrals, our hearts swoon, and our cheeks blush. 

The concept of minimalism can be defined as the culmination of reductionist tendencies. The pioneering minimalists of the 60s and 70s (think Agnes Martin, Frank Stella, and Anne Truitt) believed art was too personal and shouldn’t refer to anything other than itself. Put simply; less is more for the minimalist. 

The minimalist lifestyle is about utility, elegance and avoiding the unnecessary by living simply. Gandhi, one of the world’s greatest non-violent political activists and spiritual leaders, was a minimalist. He chose to live a life where he didn’t need to rely on British goods and learned to sustain himself on very little. And, this type of thinking is having a resurgence: we’re seeing home gardens, handmade goods, and the push to shop local

Whether it’s in art, work, or life, the discipline and forethought it takes to practice minimalism are genuinely awe-inspiring. And, as you can see from our work, we’re totally on board. 

Do what you love, authentically 

As you can see, our hearts are a little torn by both philosophies and the movements that go along with them. Is it possible to be both a maximalist and a minimalist? Or to love a maximalist lifestyle and lead by minimalist design?

The truth is, you can and should do and be whatever you want. If you want to throw 1,000+ different patterns around your home, so be it. Or, if “A place for everything, everything in its place” is more of your vibe and resonates with you, then that’s beautiful too. 

A trend is just that – a trend. You don’t need to follow any sort of societal rules from external forces. Instead, when it comes to your brand, your style, and your home, you can choose to go with your gut and follow what lights up your soul. You can choose to do what you love, authentically. 

Learn more about Carte Blanche Studio 

What moves you, moves us. After the last little while, we believe we should all be living our authentic lives to the fullest. And we’re here to help you do just that. 

We’re Toronto’s leading creative agency. We’re passionate about helping brands express themselves in an authentic way to build a more connected future. Visit us online to learn more.

3 Comments

  • Stephanie Niels

    Absolutely love this article !

  • Robert McDonalds

    Incredible read - really starting to look forward to these now. You guys should do email blasts with these articles.

  • Melissa D

    wooooooow. Absolutely adored this article. Kudos to your author.

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