Currently, many trends vie for attention in our diverse post-millennial world. The best home builders in Sydney report that opulence, exoticism and eclecticism all remain strong trends in contemporary architecture and interior design.
But minimalism is making a comeback.
A major movement in the ‘90s and an idea embraced by thought leaders from architect Tadao Ando to Steve Jobs, minimalism has, ironically, a lot going for it. Building companies in Sydney are increasingly fielding requests from daring clients interested in “going minimal”.
Where did minimalism come from? For one of the form’s best home builders Sydney is a good place to look: architect Harry Seidler is known as one of Australia’s most prominent modernist architects and a confirmed acolyte of minimalism.
Internationally Amercian/German icon Mies van de Rohe (an interior of one of his house designs is pictured above) was regarded as a godfather of minimalism. Working in the first half of the 20th century, he established a new architectural style that could represent modern times. Clarity and simplicity were the hallmarks of his work. His most iconic buildings featured industrial steel and glazing to define interior spaces and were often characterised by spare structural frameworks with an emphasis on natural light and free-flowing open-ness.
These early proponents of minimalism had a purist approach which by today’s standards might be considered to verge on discomfort!
In the Australian market, contemporary style remains in high demand, and many clients in the luxury home building sector continue to opt for minimalism. But according to at least one Sydney builder the minimalist style, once renowned for its almost ascetic quality, has been modernised to offer a little more comfort.
“Well executed, minimalism supports rest and relaxation. However it’s not just about “getting rid of stuff”; minimalism is about considered choices and simplification of form.”
“Today clients aren’t quite as rigidly purist as Mies van de Rohe in their approach, blending their minimalism with a healthy dose of wellbeing – the form can also be worked in with warm timber, leather and textiles.”
Having said that, minimalism isn’t really minimalist without at least a nod to its own pared back tradition.
Home builders in NSW say clients interested in this style still want to feel freed of excess. For example, walls are either totally bare or simply supporting one or two handpicked artworks. Lines are clean and, wherever possible, functional. Sleek designer fittings in the kitchen, LED lighting and a monochrome colour palette with pops of colour are useful ways to bring polish the minimalist aesthetic. An abundance of natural light and the creation of flow from indoors to outdoors are also hallmarks of Australian minimalism.
On the subject of outdoors, the linear architecture of minimalism has the advantage of working well with and even benefiting from unusual or challenging sites, forming a clean visual counterpoint to the home’s natural surroundings.
“Well executed, it can bring a calm balance to a home’s exterior spaces,” says one Sydney builder. “Alfresco dining and swimming pools in the minimalist style generally feature strong angles, squared off shapes and clean edges, reinforcing a sense of harmony and simplicity, which ironically often has the effect of creating a sense of rarefied and pure luxury.”