Maximalism vs Minimalism: two Lifestyle writers give their take on the different methods

When it comes to minimalism, Marie Kondo is the queen. Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant and former sociology student and is most notable for her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her ‘spark joy’ criteria for which possessions to keep or to throw away is based on the emotional reaction they elicit and has become somewhat of a catchphrase for the entrepreneur.

Kondo mentions in the preface to her 2011 book that in Japan, cleanliness equates to good luck. She goes on to explain that objects in your home can only come to life once they are ordered; an idea founded in the belief of feng shui. It denotes that forces of energy connect entities in a particular way, in this case connecting people to their surrounding objects. In the same vein, you will notice in Kondo’s new series the way she taps and greets things that would appear to most Western viewers as inanimate objects. This is, in fact, a central part of the Japanese Shinto religion. This traditional view of the world has many ties to animism, meaning that every object has a spirit or essence. In the case of books, for example, tapping them wakes them up and opening them outside renders them conscious. Likewise, she explains greeting houses in her book as “based on the etiquette of worshipping at Shinto shrines,” comparing it to entering into a sacred place. It’s all about paying respect to the space by taking a moment to be quiet, treating the cleaning process as a ritual of celebration as opposed to a burdensome task.

So, if you’re interested in implementing this type of living into your every day, here are a few pointers.

First, start by category, not space. Kondo sorts homes into five categories: clothing, books, paper documents, sentimental items and miscellaneous. Start by picking one of these, the one you’ve been putting off the longest and the most disorganised. For many of us, this is our closet. Think about keeping only a small number of things that you really love which will ensure you get a lot more use out of your clothing. Empty the relevant areas out and go through each item paying attention to the emotional reaction you have to them. If something is bringing you down, like an old pair of jeans you can longer fit into, get rid of them!

Do keep it practical though: a spatula might not spark much joy in you but you should probably keep it to make the cake that will! Make sure you tailor it to your own life and passions – if fashion or books are what you’re passionate about, for example, there’s no point in getting rid of all your clothes or books.

While I am not quite a master of minimalism or tidying up, judging by the mass of clothes and broken fairy lights on my bedroom floor, I do think we could all learn a fair bit from the way Kondo respects and values the things around her. It represents an attitude about the world and about the dangers of our materialist society that can bring a lot of good in whatever way you choose to implement it.

Ailish Moore

Being a maximalist is about creating or decorating a space that expresses the flairs of your personality. Entering such an area is like discovering a hidden treasure trove where everything overwhelms one’s senses with glowing warmth and whispers stories. Who would not love the feeling of escaping into a fantastical little universe, feasting their eyes on every single little detail, and where they are free to execute absolutely anything that catches their fancy. If you happen to believe that maximalism could increase your level of happiness, here is a little guide on how you can achieve it.

Collect objects that have a special significance to you. It could be a Vesuvius’ rock, a Charles Dickens’ bust, or a gramophone from your grandparents. People often keep things that make them happy, but things that provoke thoughts or inspires creativity could also be meaningful in different ways. These things don’t need to be big or expensive, just little things that matter to you.

Be experimental and do not be limited by how things are conventionally organised or placed. Mix up the colours, disrupt the patterns, and play with the compositions. Sometimes random juxtapositions could result in serendipitous beauty. Be as outlandish as you want, with the aim of expressing who you are. It is arguable that a Maximalist setting could inspire creative energy or spark new ideas since it is such an innovative space.

Maximalism is not about cluttering and chaos. Tidiness could still be necessary. Try grouping similar objects or colours together, or you could create themed spaces, or design different functional areas to provide some sense of order. It could be visually tiring if everything is randomly littered everywhere; thus a certain balance needs to be attained, and the individual should determine this fine line.

Ultimately, it all boils down to creating a personal sanctuary where you feel content to stay. The maximalist interior decor seems to reflect our lives, which is a juxtaposition of orderliness and messiness, yet it’s beautiful and endearing.

Consuella Zhao 

Image: eltpics via Flickr 

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