After years of artists and fashion designers embracing a minimalist approach, 2020 has seen a sharp rise in extreme, bright and eccentric designs known to some as maximalism.
In the arts, maximalism is a direct reaction to the minimalism counter-movement. It has previously been described as an ‘aesthetic of excess’. The upcoming eccentric designs begin to bleed into mass consumer markets as audiences are driven towards joyful, playful and uplifting prints. In May 2020, Mellissa Marra-Alvarez, curator of education and research at The Museum at FIT told WWD: “Shifts in fashion are often a reaction to what came before it. When quarantines lifts, we could see people yearning to dress up again and a strong move toward a return of maximalist glamour as a sartorial expression of liberation.”
Over the last decade, minimalism and Scandinavian style trends have dominated the art, fashion and home sectors. Minimalism focuses on living life with bare essentials. Simplicity defines the minimalism lifestyle and those who adopt it seek streamlined shapes, minimal colour and obtain fewer physical belongings in order to lead a clean, organised life.
In the 1950s, when minimalism was first explored, artists set out to challenge the conventional ways consumers viewed art. Until then, art was representational of reality. The viewer of minimalism art was to respond to only what was directly in front of them as there would be no connection between the geometric, abstract design and the outside world. Frank Stella, minimalist artist active between the 1960s to 1990s, famously said, ‘only what can be seen there is there’ and ‘what you see is what you see’.
As Albert Einstein once said, ‘with every action, there is an equal opposite reaction’. The history of maximalism art challenged minimalism by emphasizing colour, bold designs, dramatizing strokes on the canvas and experimenting with unique personal taste. Today, maximalism can be created and enhanced by a maybe graphic design that creates visual content for consumers to resonate with the reader. However, Art Nouveau, an international style of art that began during the 1890s, may be one of the first experimental styles that maximalism today is based upon. In history, maximalism may not have been identifiable by name but the teachings and attributes have been present in society too long to be labelled as a ‘fad’ or ‘trend’.
Like minimalism, maximalism has since developed into many other art forms and cultures including maximalism fashion, music and literature. Subgenres of maximalism fashion, such as grandmillenial and cottagecore, also continue to grow in popularity. Today, you can define individuals as ‘maximalist’ or ‘minimalist’ based upon their characteristics and lifestyle.
Maximalist style home décor accounts have surged on Instagram as the general public and even celebrities rush to share the insides of their quirky homes. In 2019, in an interview to House Beautiful, Amy Berry, U.S based designer, said: “After watching everybody do neutral, transitional rooms for so long, we’ve had several younger clients come to us in the past year asking for things like chintz, treillage and bright colours.”
She added: “It’s been surprising to see the types of things our twenty- and thirty-something customers are going crazy for which include pleated lamp shades, botanical prints, framed Gracie wallcovering panels we can’t keep in stock.”
Although, there will always be a need for minimalism throughout the hospitality and hotel industries. Minimalism is neutral and causes no offence to any being whereas maximalism design embraces personal preferences which dismiss all known rules of art, fashion and interior and encourages all aspects of life to be a smorgasbord of ornamentation, texture and pattern. In 2017, a study by Ribble Cycles revealed that brits spend 92 per cent of their time, Monday to Friday, indoors. As such a high percentage of time is spent in your home, it is the perfect place to express bold interior design and colourful décor to create an environment in which you enjoy spending time in. Rudy Saunders, New York designer, also interviewed in 2019 by House Beautiful, said: “There’s so much negativity in the world today—who doesn’t want to be surrounded by pretty, happy, comfortable things?”
However, maximalism style and lifestyle isn’t easy and it’s definitely not messed, cluttered or stressed. It is covering your walls with a generous amount of complementary colour and filling your wardrobe with vintage accessories all in order to create a space, outfit or even a lifestyle that brings you maximum happiness. After all, more is more and less is bore.
Article By: Brooke Murphy
I’m Brooke and I am currently in my final year of studying BA Hons Fashion Journalism at the University of Sunderland. I have always had a passion for writing about maximalism art and fashion and I am excited for this opportunity at 'The Connoisseur' to allow me to focus on and develop my skills further.