Why minimalism is boring
Plan Your Next #51
👋 Hello! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #51 of Plan Your Next. It’s a newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
If you’re one of the nine new subscribers, welcome!
What’s new this week?
✍️ My latest essay, Minimalism is Boring, just went live.
💌 Co-hosted a Q&A with Josh Spector to chat about his writing and newsletter process.
Good morning from Los Angeles!
I used to think minimalism was the goal. I’ve been in thousands of creative meetings where Apple would pop up as the holy grail of design minimalism.
I love everything about Apple, but it’s anything but minimal. A logo on a white page is a minimal look, but Apple is rich in personality. Its design decisions are complex but thoughtful. Many of the decisions about its aesthetics stem from Steve Jobs and what he thought looked good, who was as complex a personality as the rest of us.
Every day, you have to make design decisions, even if you’re not a designer.
We care about the way our homes look, the clothes we’re wearing, and even our personal websites. These decisions are like spotlights into who we are and what we value.
Why do you think so many of us use bookshelves as backgrounds for our Zoom calls? It’s because they look great, and it signals that we’re interesting people.
Minimalism has its historical roots as far back as any of us can imagine. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
But in the here and now, minimalism is often the default design decision we make. It’s easy, and it requires almost no effort.
It’s easy to choose a minimal-looking template because you’re exhausted from making design decisions. Maybe you started with good intentions, searching for images online using Google or Pinterest to get inspired. But nothing felt right because your room is not drenched in sunlight, or the outfit you’re hoping to wear fits better on a 6’ tall slender model.
So you made the least offensive choice possible. You chose to pick something with almost no personality because it simply is easier.
But there’s a better way. Starting from the inside-out.
Designing from the inside-out starts with exploring what makes us unique. It means extracting the most important slices of our personalities. Former Braun Designer Dieter Rams lives by this principle, “Less, but better.”
It takes time to truly know our own taste. It means writing out our core values, our skills, what inspires us. What are the colors, textures, patterns, and typefaces that start to spring up from our own tastes?
Minimalism is boring because making the least offensive choice is too easy.
⚡️ Inspiration for this week
Artist and writer, Salman, wrote this great piece about how an idea doesn’t need to be perfectly ripe to be ready to share.
When Alie and I moved out west, we cobbled together a small preparedness kit for all of the earthquakes that were bound to happen. Well, in the 6+ years we’ve been in California, we’ve only experienced a handful. And during the long stretches, it’s easy to get lazy.
I stumbled on Get Judy, a well-designed and thoughtful approach to preparedness. I bought the one in the backpack. The water even lasts up to 5 years.
Search thousands of lettering and graphic design specimens dating back to the 1500s, from all across the world. You can browse by decade, country, and more.
H/T Hoodzpah Design
👋 See you next Sunday
And if you’re creatively stuck because you ran out of coffee, save 10% on Flow State coffee. Flow State uses l-theanine and raw cacao to lower anxiety and support creativity. (Affiliate link)
Have a great week,