Decoding Minimalism

Ever wondered what ‘Minimalism’ means?

I did, for many years.

When I was working for a Design Agency, nearly 17 years ago, I had first heard about this concept.

Brands used to hire us for our design sensibilities and our understanding and scientific approach to Design.

Minimalism in graphic terms means clean, white, straight lines and so on. Gives it a real premium look and feel.

This philosophy permeates into fashion, home decor and also the way one lives his/her life.

I like things simple. Is it the same thing as minimalism?

In a way I think. But exact definitions are unimportant here.

It’s the application that’s important.

So I am going to dedicate the next few paragraphs on my idea of Minimalism and how I have applied it to my life.

Let me first put out the actual definitions out so you can create your own version of minimalism.

Simplicity is a state of mind. Minimalism is the outcome of that state of mind.

Simplicity is the quality of being simple, whereas minimalism is a way of life.

First of: minimalism is not one size fits all. My life, occupation, family, time is all mine. I have my own version of it. My motivations are different; hence my application will be different too.

So, I am stating below what minimalism is not:
⁃ It is not about living in an empty house with just one piece of furniture or two pieces of clothing.
⁃ It is not about buying cheap things.
⁃ It is not about climate change or being environmentally friendly. There are many for whom this is a major motivation. And then again, there are many for whom it’s not.
⁃ It is not about having an organised drawer.
⁃ It is certainly not cutting out social media and television.

To me, minimalism is about having mind space. Having fewer things to manage and worry about. It’s especially never easy for a working woman. But I have applied it in my life and I am happier.

One – Cutting out work beyond a particular hour.

I hard close work by 7 pm, come what may. In fact, even during the pandemic, I turned off work at a particular time – even thuogh there were more things to worry about.

It’s taken me time, and also some amount of criticism.

But people around me have learnt to adjust to it.

My mind space is crucial to me. It allows me to be creative.

A space where ideas can breed.

I snap out of all the work-related issues, thoughts by evening and think about them only the next day.

I detest jobs which require constant attention. My boss used to call me at 11 pm to ask about things at work. My junior used to call me to update me at 9 pm. I’ve attended to both their calls and allowed them to walk all over me.

Till I realised that nothing dies if you don’t accept that work-call. It can wait until the next morning and in most cases, the problem does not even persist the following morning. Things sort themselves or a decent solution is reached.

Two – Mindful Consumption

A saree-lover like me is tempted to buy sarees all the time. My blog requires me to be online a great deal and I am bombarded with advertisements from brands.

But I buy a saree when I know I have given up one in some way; either repurposed it or donated it or reused it.

When I make room for one, I get one. And i have unfollowed a few brands from my social media channels.

Recently, I made room for three sarees. And I am so happy, I am in no rush to fill up the space and I want to get a saree I’ve never owned before.

We live in an exceedingly consumerist society. Everybody is hankering for a share of your wallet. We did it too. And it’s a major part of our work-deliverable – how to make people spend money on our Client’s product. But, when it comes to my personal expenses, I’ve figured a way out to hold on to cash in my wallet. There are some costs have to be incurred. No shying away there. But there are some costs that are totally wasteful.

A few expenses which drown cash:

Coffee in coffee shops. I used to love the idea of going to coffee shop and having a coffee and sitting there for hours, reading a book and so on.

A very liberating feeling! But by the end of it, you’ve spent a decent amount of money on lame things like added flavours, ice-creams and cream toppings on your coffee, which by the way are very expensive. They are money-wasters. Money spent there is gone forever.

Make up – Now, this is something I avoid. This is something that’s not in my mental make-up.  Endless products exist in this segment. And there are innovative products also. I remember, I had accompanied a friend into a Mac store. I ended up spending 5k on two lipsticks, which I have applied all of, twice in the last 4 years. Money down the toilet. I bought concealers, bronzers, mascaras, liquid liners, gel liners, eye shadow, foundations, CC cream, BB cream and what not. The works!

Usage? Zero. I have not bought make-up since then.

Shoes and Bags – Totally a sucker for these two items. But then, I go for good leather bags with classic designs. Always in fashion. Buy one expensive tote which works for years. Good shoe brands like Hush Puppies, Clarks are what I like to buy from. Comfortable and lasting.

ThreeUnnecessary conversation.

Discussions, discussions and more discussions.

They are often pointless. Sometimes even a multiplication of issues and devoid of solutions.

They magnify the problem and end up becoming a waste of time.

I don’t engage in debatable issues, because they are subjective and have no right answer.

News channels make a fortune only on this.

And to me, it’s nothing but noise.

They say, India wants to know. I really don’t want to know.

Please don’t construe that I don’t enjoy conversations and making friends. I am a Bangali and I love an adda.

But, beyond a point, even that feels wasteful. I love and thrive on conversations. Meaningful ones. Things that are not in keeping with my likes and preferences, I steer clear from. For example, I do not partake in any conversation pertaining to subjects like politics and religion.

FourGetting rid of the hoarder mentality.

In Management, we learnt a concept called Just -in -time, which is a production management concept used in factories and assembly lines.

When our professor was introducing the subject to us, he said ‘we Indians live our lives based on the ‘just-in-case’ mindset. And that’s why, we never throw things or let go of them. We need endless storage capacity in our homes. Cupboards, shelves, sofas doubling as storage. All in the hope, that one day when the need arises, the thing will be of use. My husband used to bring me these small tin cans on his trips on Indigo airlines. I had liked the bright multi-coloured boxes and he used to get me one from every trip. Till I realised I had about forty of the square tin cans and told him he had to stop bringing them.

Pretty no doubt.

Useful? Absolutely.

But forty of them? Definitely not. One fine morning, I just flung them out of my life. Just gave them away to my domestic helper who was more than happy to have it.

Emotional sentimental attachment is good, but not attachment to clutter. I am sentimental about an old camera my grandfather used to own and it sits in my living room. It’s a hundred-year-old Agfa. My precious writing desk is an inheritance from my Uncle, who had purchased it from Kashmir in the late 60s. My floppy disk in which I saved my final dissertation for my Master’s degree. To many, this would feel lame. Maybe they are. Not to me. Not just yet.

While, I consciously do all of the above, to me it’s a journey. I am not all there.

It takes sufficient will power as well.

Minimalism is my personal style statement too. And honestly, I’ve never really known any other kind. I sincerely believe that looking good should not involve a lot of effort.

To me, minimalism is practical and functional. Statement rings and necklaces. Bright colours. Aesthetically selected outfits. Great taste. They automatically do the talking without the need to clutter your wardrobe with countless outfits.

Minimalism to me is never boring. It is also, never under-dressing.

It is also never without finishing touches. Ok, maybe some.

But the absence of it does not take away anything.

Did you relate to any of the things I wrote above? I hope I made some sense to you and your lives. Feel free to share your comments below or write to me on