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What Is Maximalism And Why Is It So Popular?

Posted on 29 Mar, 2022

Maximalism is an aesthetic of excess – the direct counterpart to minimalism, where rooms are stripped down to the bare essentials. It’s a way to display your treasured possessions for your own pleasure and to impress visitors. Here in the office, we've been discussing which of us would like to introduce this into our homes. This has in turn led to the question of what it actually was and why it's so popular at the moment.

Maximalism in Design

There is more to maximalism than just putting everything you own into a room. That’s called hoarding and is generally frowned upon. Maximalism is about highlighting the best of the material goods you have in your life. Whilst the examples we have from the past might have been an exercise in enumerating one’s success, modern-day maximalism is more about curating the things we have that give us joy.

From a design perspective, maximalism includes bright, vibrant colours and eye-catching patterns. It’s about drawing attention to focal points in the room, where you might have a favourite ornament. It’s about covering the walls in your favourite pieces of artwork. It’s choosing mismatched furniture, because you love each individual piece for a different reason, regardless of if they ‘fit’ with one another.

The Maximalism-Minimalism Cycle

Maximalism and minimalism go hand-in-hand and it’s easy to see the interplay that they have with one another. Minimalism often comes into fashion during times of austerity, whilst in times of economic growth, maximalism comes back into fashion. We can see this cycle throughout history – the maximalism of the Victorian and Edwardian age, gave way to the minimalism of the post-War years. The Swinging Sixties and Seventies saw visual excess in terms of design and art alike, while the eighties greeted the return of sparseness and starkness as an aesthetic.

Maximalism in 2022

Since the global economic crisis of 2008, much of the Western world has been facing austerity measures that have resulted in a minimalist approach, where we make the most of what we have. Over the last few years, there has been a notable shift toward maximalism. Part of that is due to the coronavirus pandemic. As people spent more time in their homes, they found themselves wanting to surround themselves with things that gave them pleasure.

Likewise, many people found themselves with spare money during lockdown. Either because most shops were shut, they were saving money on commutes, or had developed a skill that they had channelled into a money-making side-line. More disposable income means more purchases, which means more things they want to highlight in their home.

Whilst we are currently back at a point of economic uncertainty, don’t expect maximalism to die off as a trend just yet. We are in the early stages of the cycle – the buying new things part. For interior designers, this is the point where people want to start drawing attention to the beautiful things they own. Focus on contrasting colours, hand-drawn shapes, and a sense of excess to create something truly different.

If you’re looking for an interior design job that embraces the joy of maximalism or another design style, be sure to register with Careers in Design. We will help you find the perfect role to suit your skills and experience.

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