People reveal a lot about themselves using their personal possessions. You go into a house and somebody says: “See all those paintings on the wall; I just love art!” or “That delicate china porcelain vase? I bought it from Prague!” So the whole style and arrangement of a person’s house can be the beginning of a conversation that will either encourage or discourage further communication. On the other hand, you, as a guest, have more time to analyze the environment and see if it fits with your schema of the person it is connected to: “Does he have a favourite chair he likes watching football from?” “Is she sentimentally attached to that table that was a present from her grandmother?” Furnishings refer to the way we think. They combine experiences of an individual’s personal and group life and help us evaluate people and adopt an attitude.
Suddenly, artists felt trapped. Their creations were not appreciated for their own sake but, rather, they provided excuses for people’s habits. They became fetish and were lost in consumerism. They stopped posing questions and provided ready-made answers. At the same time, philosophers opened their books back to the era of the Italian Renaissance, only to discover a lost individualism, the idea – in quotes – of an “inner and external liberation from the communal forms that constrict a person’s life”. The Romantics of the eighteenth century were clearer: the person has a position that nothing and no one else can fill. Now they asked: what happened to feelings and to experience? Are we really going to live the world inside out from now on? A need for a more authentic start had been set down.
The answer lies in minimalism. The idea of simplicity and respect for nature indoors, borrowed from the philosophy of Zen Buddhism: live as a poor person would, learn to survive with the necessary, free yourself from the dynasty of ownership, are three propositions that summarize their theory. In other words, empty the content of your house in the street. An idea is, above all, an idea, you can perceive it – not discover it. It doesn’t have to lead to a visible form. Sitting down doesn’t justify a stuffed room of tables and chairs, especially since one can sit on the floor as the Japanese tradition teaches. The minimalists live on space and light. They rely on fantasy and creativity for the rest and their method goes a s following – less is more. Nothing is per se necessary. It is you who give value to things.
The minimalists wish of houses with white colours and open windows. Empty and peaceful, places in which you can only listen to the beating of your heart and the voice of your conscience. Houses that may leave you exposed and vulnerable but true to yourself. If you think that something is missing in there, start again: something is probably missing from your life. But don’t go shopping. Because life is a path to be traversed, not purchased…