Warning: this is an attempt at finding aesthetic sense in today’s sea of emoticons and TikTok-induced frenzies for our purpose.
Guest author Matthew Catania is an architect at I+A, founder of Ambitious.mt, and self-confessed New Materialist, whose take on design approaches today responds to a newly-charged post-pandemic FOMO that has us all accumulating to the point minimalism may now be considered a thing of the past.
Welcome to the era of Maximalism!
Max, max, this just in – too much is never enough. As we move away from the pure and simple to the mundane and kitsch, we must acknowledge that from the ‘less is more’ prerogative, we’ve gone to Venturi’s ‘Less is Bore’ in a matter of a few years.
As the term suggests, Maximalism is a maximisation of everything and anything. Which, you might argue, readily panders to the whimsical needs and deep desires of Gen Z, eagerly awaiting to make their claim on society.
Its precursor, Minimalism provided an aesthetic that celebrated clean lines and provided the bare minimum as an essential and modest way of life. Yet, Minimalism was born as a result of the Great Recession back in 2008, when an economical crash affected the lives of millions of people, presenting a stripped-down bare aesthetic that highlights a sense of essential urgency (and, arguably, what more could afford at the time).
So what caused this paradigm shift?
[Lifestyle – Traits]
The start of the 2020s is a timely recall of the Roaring (19)20s: they’re here and wanting more, more and MORE! And, after the COVID-19 pandemic, this insatiable need to overcompensate, to continually consume and possess has become all the more overpowering.
Immersed in their digital environs, Gen Z has grown accustomed to a digital way of life by finding means to navigate through the various deities earning a social media following. These individuals have been gifted with an array of styles just at the tip of their fingers, awaiting to satisfy their deepest desires, pinning their favourites on Pinterest, saving reels on Instagram, TikToking their new ‘stuff’. Amplified by the confusion and sterile atmosphere brought about during the pandemic, Maximalism continues to gather traction with the reappearance of ‘Stuff’ through Hyper-Consumerism trends. Introspectively, these wants and desires express a people demanding a more personal and intimate meaning from the items they select and purchase. Where Minimalism failed to deliver in personalisation and emotion, Maximalism indulged its viewers to entertain their wildest fantasies. In reality, the consumers wished for items that reflect themselves more intensely rather than a cold standard item.
As designers, we need to be aware of this shift in style and to be able to cater for this new expressive need within contemporary society. Maximalism is all about lots of vibrant colour, rich texture and decorative prints. It manifests itself through mementoes, objets d’Art and items that embody an in-depth loving memory. In terms of products, Maximalism drives a strong link towards handmade objects and potentially reawakening the crafts. In interior design, it demands a hyperpersonal space bursting with visual stimulation. Consumers are focusing their attention on objects that spark a deep connection…so how do they translate this plethora of items present within their digital environs? By making them. Digitally. Now.
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