firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
"DEATH TO MINIMALISM" by Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs.

This article proposes "Minimalism is the aesthetic language of gentrification." I like the overall points the article is making—that clutter has character, and that minimalism everywhere would be dull, and that there's an increasing trend toward minimalism and sameness, which isn't good.

But, at the risk of revealing that I have the soul of a gentrifier, I have such different reactions to some of the rooms and buildings that the article is calling out as examples of deadly minimalism. Take this before-and-after photo of an Oakland Victorian, originally from a tweet by SF Gate, which likes the new version better. Robinson likes the old version better. I agree that the old version has more personality, and I'm sad that they tore it down. The new version, though, doesn't look like a corpse to me, but like a canvas ready to be personalized.

Robinson contrasts some "boring-ass" windows on the side of a gray building with the inside of the Nasir-ol-molk ("Pink") Mosque. Leaving aside that these are hardly similar things, I don't think the gray windows are boring-ass. They come in several different shapes and are positioned in different configurations, and some of them have green frames. Compared to what's on the outside of most skyscrapers it's quite varied. I would love to spend hours looking at the mosque and its windows, but I wouldn't want to live there. I would get overwhelmed.

Then we are presented with four bathrooms. (Three of the images are links.) The author complains that one of them is all white and there's no door on the walk-in shower. I agree that the shower would be better with a door. He likes the other three bathrooms better because they have flowers and clawfoot tubs and "Who doesn't like flowers?" I see them like this: 1 accessible bathroom, which has a wall that could be painted if you felt like it. 3 bathrooms with clawfoot tubs where, the minute I tried to get out of the tub on the slippery floor, I would break my neck.

Date: 22 Feb 2019 04:56 pm (UTC)
bitterlawngnome: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Disingenuous. The mosque windows were made ornate to reflect the wealth and power of the patron. Morris' wallpaper was very expensive and only the wealthy could afford to use it. Victorian gingerbread costs an arm and a leg to repair and repaint every few years. And none of them are easy to clean; they are all fragile and must be carefully used; and they cannot easily be altered to suit changing needs. In fact they were, and remain, markers of wealth and privilege.

Detail is expensive.

Date: 22 Feb 2019 06:15 pm (UTC)
cjsmith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cjsmith
I strongly dislike clawfoot tubs, having lived with one for several years. Some detail and character and clutter I like, some I don't. I also like clean spare lines, a view that seems harmonious and peaceful, and room to move. Which things I'll react to in which ways is not a thing I can likely predict easily.

I suspect one thread of the ethos underpinning modern minimalist movements is anti-conspicuous-consumption, anti-waste, a sense of asking whether one has what one really needs or a bunch of mostly meaningless stuff. I can get behind those. I suspect there are a lot of people out there who would be a bit happier if they pared down (myself included). But saying that every non-minimalist thing is bad is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and I think a lot of proponents of minimalism tend in that direction.

I guess people just like what they like. :)

Date: 22 Feb 2019 06:37 pm (UTC)
cjsmith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cjsmith
Oh, interesting way to put it. “Conversations” with some people are like that for me. The other person talks enough, frequently enough, constantly enough, that there’s no room for me to even think. I start to form a thought and they’re off again. I usually just go silent in those situations. The analogy to a very busy visual field is pretty strong.

Date: 22 Feb 2019 08:42 pm (UTC)
boxofdelights: (Default)
From: [personal profile] boxofdelights
Yes. This.

I have a lot of clutter in the form of stuff that is sitting there because I don't have the energy to deal with it right now. When I was picking out surfaces for my kitchen & bathroom remodel I kept getting overwhelmed by all the prettiness of the patterns and colors and types of things at the tile store, but every time I asked myself what I wanted to live with every day, I chose simple.


The shower in my new bathroom doesn't have a door because the bathroom is so tiny there is no way to have a shower door that can't collide with the bathroom door. I'm not happy about it but by the time the builders realized that it was going to be a problem there was no way to fix it without starting over. So I've got two glass walls with a curtain between them.

Date: 22 Feb 2019 08:09 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
Accessibility does make things more minimalist than they might otherwise be, but I'm pretty sure that character and ideas and accessibility all cost money, which assume people don't have any many corporate entities are unwilling to spend. So we get minimalist blah.

Date: 23 Feb 2019 04:30 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Showers without a door are often an accessibility issue as well - they're "roll in" showers! They also allow someone to help you without necessarily getting right in the shower as well.

Minimalism can be the language of mass production, but it can also be the language of a blank slate.

Date: 23 Feb 2019 03:46 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
Essentially, yes, for elder care. Although that was my grandmother taking care of my grandfather at that point, before his passing, but the shower, such that it was, was definitely just a big expanse - so that he could sit and shower and get aid and nobody had to fumble with anything. It felt exposed, but truthfully, I've also seen open-air bathrooms in other places as well just so that there wasn't a lot of things to get in the way.

Date: 24 Feb 2019 02:25 pm (UTC)
cjsmith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cjsmith
This is very common in Sweden. Bathrooms (living spaces in general) are small there. There’s a clever doohickey to cover the toilet paper so showers don’t ruin it.

Date: 25 Feb 2019 12:23 pm (UTC)
marahmarie: (M In M Forever) (Default)
From: [personal profile] marahmarie
Huh, I like the Target look *and* the blue house that got ruined by (among many other things - like, how does making the staircase longer and eliminating the landing improve the looks or ease of use of it?) painting it white.

I think my style is sort of a minimalistic borderline-ornate blend, maybe. I like a bit of both but rarely too much of either (though I just loved the blue house - the details on it were amazing. It even had jewelry (the white lights that looked like a necklace)! Too bad, as that's a real loss.

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