Introduction to Minimalist Design

Good minimalist design, whether it’s graphic design, web design or architecture, has three defining characteristics:

  1. Repetition
  2. Formal simplicity
  3. Use of voids

The first, repetition, means a minimal variation in applied design elements. The effect of this is usually described as ‘a pared down aesthetic’. On the one hand, it offers a kind of sensory deprivation that is welcomed today by many in a world of increasing stimuli. On the other hand, its clean lines allow the observer to comprehend minimalist objects with minimal cognitive load. Minimalists appreciate minimalist design as ‘easy on the soul’.

The second characteristic, formal simplicity, refers to the minimalist’s preference for geometric shapes such as perfect circles and squares as well as for uninterrupted lines.

The third, the use of voids, is what gives minimalist design a certain tension. It appeals to the human condition of horror vacui, or the fear of empty spaces. Minimalists could be described as having an amor vacui.

When done right, minimalist design offers the observer a direct view at – and raises questions about – the true nature of the subject or object. It invites the viewer to consider it for what it really is: a shape, a thought, a movementreminding us to focus on what’s really important.


In the 1960’s, creatives like sculptor, painter, furniture designer Donald Judd and director Robert Wilson in the USA and especially furniture designer, graphic designer AG Fronz