After an era that has been defined by choice, how do we adapt to restraint? Embrace the beauty, innovation and opportunity that comes from living with less.
Across the world, the impact of climate change and public health crises are revealing themselves in increasingly devastating ways, and living smaller and smarter is becoming an imperative rather than a choice. In South Korea, for example, food waste recycling has increased from just 2% in 1995 to 95% in 2019 thanks to strict government policies, and in the Netherlands (and soon beyond), new startup Gibbon is making it possible to go on vacation without luggage (or frivolous pre-vacation purchases) by renting excess inventory from retailers to travellers. The free rein of libertarianism is being supplanted by the beautiful restraints of limitarianism.
For design industries, this shift to a more minimalist mindset will take a number of forms. Today’s flexible home must accommodate multiple activities in smaller spaces, but at no expense to style.
Larger investments such as furniture will hold more appeal if they incorporate configurable systems or designs that offer more than one function. And across consumer lifestyles, there will be a re-prioritisation of leisure and time affluence. We will also see a re- evaluation of retro themes across all categories, not through the obvious recreation of specific styles or decades, but through pieces that are more broadly rooted in timeless design.
Fittingly, this direction can be best summed up by German
industrial designer Dieter Rams, whose dictum amounts
to just three words: “Less but better.”