Advice and learnings

IKEA challenges the myth of minimalism


It’s an unacknowledged annual ritual in many households – finding a quiet moment with a cup of tea and the new IKEA catalogue. Loyal fans of IKEA’s Scandinavian simplicity and efficient storage solutions will be surprised by the recently released 2019 catalogue. You will discover within it’s 288 beautifully photographed pages, that IKEA is making a point of challenging the “myth of minimalism.” For a brand that has grown to define affordable and stylish minimalist living, this is a quite a backflip. Who would have imagined IKEA cheerfully advertising a space “where more is more“?

For their 4th annual Life at Home Report, IKEA conducted a global survey of 22,000 people in 22 countries “in order to understand how people really feel about life at home”. It focused further on the interplay between the elements of Things, Relationships, Space and Place which were defined in the 2015 report, and defined five points of tension. The resulting research is featured in ‘The IKEA Life at Home Report 2017 – Beating the Battles.

One of these points of tension revealed that in Australia and around the world one of the things we struggle with is mess. Having “too much stuff”, differing interpretations of mess, is the single biggest cause of stress in the home – but asking people to minimise their belongings also caused stress.

“Globally, 27% of people think society puts pressure on us to live minimally,” IKEA reports. “And 49% of people say the main cause of their domestic arguments is due to different feelings about clutter.”

Ikea 2019 catalogue

IKEA is now acknowledging that people naturally accumulate things that represent memories, experiences, hopes and dreams. Items that have meaning but not necessarily practicality. Scattered throughout the catalogue are rooms filled with the extra paraphernalia of more realistically inhabited spaces. We spy knick-knacks, collections, bits and pieces!

While it could be perceived as self-sabotage of the Swedish brand’s iconic minimalist design ethic, no doubt this surprising change has been very carefully orchestrated. After all, the more stuff you have, the more IKEA storage you’ll need to buy.

Common myths of minimalism

Myth: Minimalist homes are nearly empty with hardly any personality

Truth: Real minimalist design is about spaces that are as functional as they are beautiful. The goal is to be thoughtful and selective about décor and surrounding yourself with things you love.


Myth: Minimalist interiors are always bland and void of colour

Truth: Classic minimalist interiors use a subdued base palette to achieve a clean, crisp, calming, fresh space. Colours are usually solid pigments that blend well with the neutral tones. While the black and white combination is widely used for its simplicity, it can tend to make a space look cold and clinical unless combined with monochromatic and textural elements.

Myth: Minimalism means paring things down until you’re living with only the bare essentials

Truth: Minimalism not about deprivation. Minimalism advocates choosing quality not quantity. The lesson is simply that you can live well with less. By discarding non-essentials, you will find what really adds value, meaning, purpose and happiness.

Moderation, a balance between less and more, unmeasurable and personal in its definition, is at the heart of minimalism. —Anonymous

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