|Minimalist kitchen: Oops, I spilled the molasses.|
Some of us really ask for it. For example, I recently saw a so-called “kitchen” designed by a trendy British architect. Though I generally bend over backward to remain impartial, I’ve just got to come right out and say it: As a kitchen, the design was utterly ludicrous. It consisted of a few huge slabs of Carrara marble serving as counters in an otherwise flawlessly barren space finished with fanatical attention to detail. More telling, however, is what was absent. There wasn’t a single unscripted item—like a cooking utensil, maybe?—that was allowed to disfigure the absolute purity of the architect’s conception.
|Minimalist "living" room:|
Come on in and make yourself at home.
The cult of minimalist architecture essentially consists of spending the maximum money possible on the least visual results. It has its roots in the International Style of the 1930s, when many architects blindly accepted Le Corbusier’s motto of “less is more” with little independent thought and even less humor. Architects loved the pseudo-science and precision of the International Style, which for a change made them feel like intellectuals instead of artistically gifted louts.
The public, however, hated the International Style. And although it took fifty years, popular opinion finally managed to stamp it out, no thanks to us architects.
|A bathroom, or a near-death experience?|
(Architect: Wannemacher+Moeller GmbH.
Photography: Jose Campos)
While the two terms “minimalist” and “vast-budgeted” would seem to be in opposition, they aren't: As the Modernists quickly learned, the more pristine and perfect a design must be, the more it costs to build. So, given the extravagant materials and pointlessly fanatical standards of finish demanded by minimalist architects, big money is a precondition of this style.
In fact, were it not continually subsidized by the over-rich and slavishly showcased by snob magazines, minimalist architecture would quickly die of its own disconnection from reality. The reason is simple: Minimalism runs counter to the laws of entropy. Rather than being in harmony with the inevitable effects of time—wear, aging, and kids spilling Cokes—these obsessively-finished environments are predicated on time standing still. They aspire to a sort of encapsulated perfection, like a gem under a bell jar.
|By the way, if you don't like minimalism in white,|
here it is in gray.
In the years since the last gasps of Modernism, we’ve learned (or thought we had) that real people with real lives can’t be fit into theoretical constructs, no matter how elegant or rational.
Most can’t, anyway. So, Mr. Minimalist Architect—I hope you really love your new kitchen.