We present our shortlist of the modern greats of minimalism.

From Van Der Rohe’s ‘less is more’ to Buckminster Fuller’s ‘doing more with less’, Minimalism has seen many interpretations. Considered to be the most influential movement of the 20th and 21st Centuries, its identity as a principle rather than a definitive style has arguably seen it applied to a wider range of disciplines and industries than any other design movement.

Apple is of course the highest profile disciple of late. Under the watchful eye of Steve Jobs and head designer Sir Jonathan Ives, they designed with a focus on usability, eschewing any decorative or superfluous elements. The resulting success has seen Apple crowned ‘the world’s most valuable company’, granting the philosophy a universal appeal.


Minimalism can trace its ancestry back to the Higashima era in 15th Century Japan. Their traditional approach to architecture and interior design was driven by the notions of Wabi and Sabi. Although separate in their approach, the two are intrinsically linked in their application, with Wabi defined as “an active aesthetical appreciation of poverty”, and Sabi being “elegant simplicity.”

In the Western Hemisphere, the philosophy has roots in the De Stijl or ‘neoplasticism’ movement. Beginning in the Netherlands in 1917 and lasting until the 1930s, this principle reduced designs to their most essential colours and forms: horizontal and vertical lines intersected by primary colours (red, blue and yellow) and values (white, black and grey). The principle members include artists such as Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), and Bart van der Leck (1876–1958), alongside architects Gerrit Rietveld (1888–1964) and J. J. P. Oud (1890–1963).

This in turn inspired the the Bauhaus movement, pioneered by world renowned figures including Gropius and Van Der Rohe. Seen as the epicentre to the modern minimalist movement, this School was responsible for creating some of the finest minimalist architects today.

We present our shortlist of the modern greats:


Minimalism - A New World Ordered, Part I Edited

Alongside Axel Vervoort, Van Duysen is seen as one of the fathers of Flemish design. Born in 1962, and now based in Ghent, Belgium, he founded his design studio in 1990 after graduating from the Architecture Institute Saint-Lucas.

First and foremost an architect, Van Duysen has developed a keen interest in interior design. Mostly evident in his residential projects, he is famed for his purist approach and use of natural materials. Often working on all inclusive projects from the architecture to the interiors, Van Duysen has amassed a loyal following that includes many of the world’s top brands and prolific figures, from Aesop to Julianne Moore.

2013: VM Residence nominated for the Belgium Building Award
2011: ADI Compaso d’Oro Award
2009: Designer of the year: Scènes d’Interieur, Paris, France
2008: Selected for Valentino Concept Store Competition
2007: Jury Member: The Edge, competition project Al Mojil Investment Ltd. Ju


Minimalism - A New World Ordered, Part I Edited

Born in Yorkshire in 1949, Pawson’s attraction to minimalism came towards the end of a four year period teaching in Japan. Moving to Tokyo in the latter stage of the trip, visits to the studio of Japanese architect Shiro Kuryamata proved to be inspirational and upon returning to the UK, Pawson enrolled in London’s prestigious Architecture Association (AA).

Since establishing his studio in 1981, the majority of Pawson’s work has come from private residences for clients, including Bruce Chatwin and Doris Lockhart. He has grown increasingly popular through his approach to problem solving via the mediums of light, space, materials and proportion. Recent clients have included Ian Schranger, Clavin Klein and he is currently creating a new permanent home for London’s Design Museum.


2014: German Design Council Interior Designer of the Year 2008: RIBA London Special Award
RIBA Arts & Leisure Regional Award
RIBA National Award
Fondazione Frate Sole International Prize for Sacred Architecture Stephen Lawrence Prize
2006: Wallpaper* House of the Year Region Skane Award
2005: RSA Royal Designer for Industry Blueprint Architect of the Year


Minimalism - A New World Ordered, Part I Edited

A true visionary, Tadao Ando is considered by many to be today’s greatest living architect. Born in 1941, Ando is known for his unrivalled work with concrete, sensitive treatment of natural light, and strong engagement with nature.

A self taught architect, Ando originally intended to be a boxer. His destiny changed when by chance he came across Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel during a visit to Tokyo. Less than 5 years later, he returned to Osaka and established his studio, Tadao Ando Architects and Associates.

A lifelong admirer of Le Corbusier, Ando explains his approach “I am interested in a dialogue with the architecture of the past, but it must be filtered through my own vision and my own experience. I am indebted to Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but the same way, I take what they did and interpret it in my own fashion.”


2013: Grand Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy (Rome)
2010: Order of Culture: Awarded by the Emperor of Japan
2005: IUA Gold Medal: International Union of Architects
2002: Gold Medal: Architects Institute of America (AIA)
1997: Royal Gold Medal: RIBA1995: Pritzker Architectural Prize (International)
1989: Gold Medal of Architecture (France)
1985: Alvar Aalto Medal (Finnish Association of Architects)

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