‘Design’ is in all its facets and applications a functional pursuit, therefore it is usually ‘directed’ by technology.

The process of technology-aided-design, commonly materialized in the tools and devices we use to create, results in a style we could call ‘device-oriented minimalism’. I believe that this ‘minimalism’ originates out of the technological limitations of the devices we work with and for, not out of the artistic intentions or the imagination of the designer. 

However it is often the imagination of these artists, designers and scientists that pushes the limitations of the same technology further to its next ‘discovery’.

We are now experiencing a saturated market where everybody, with a computer and an internet connection, can deliver design output and where all the tools and know-how is available at a click of a button. Unfortunately this also means that everything is starting to look like the template or framework that was used during the design journey. Expressive creativity or original artistic experiences are only possible online if you have a team of creative technologists and developers behind you. 

Because of this orientation towards the devices we use everyday, the so called ‘hand of the artist’ is disappearing at a very fast pace (not to speak of a diminishing human versus human interaction). 

Paloma Alarco, head of modern painting at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, noted in an interview about Andy Warhol and Pop Art in general, that “By substituting traditional artistic methods with every sort of mechanical reproduction, like photography and serigraphy, Pop Art dealt a mortal blow to the notion of originality,” in many ways, this is relevant more than ever.

Minimalism in design is driven by functionality. Flat design, responsiveness, UI/UX research and complexion reduction, to name a few, are all valuable functional systems to make it easier for us to digest, create and publish content on a multitude of incompatible devices, platforms and technologies. The limitation of mainstream technology creates that necessary drive to simplify the way things are presented. A necessity, but nonetheless a limitation it seems.

Where do creative experimentation and the expression of our emotions come in? All the things that make us so human but are not very functional.

Is this the ‘human factor’ we have been looking for? That particle that makes each one of us different and truly original. Don’t we all want to see more human things we can relate to in essence, design experiences based on reality that really touch us, in stead of surrounding ourselves with a technologically perfect, easy to use but cold simulation that looks the same as all the others?

Of course minimalization is the way forward. Personally I try to use it as much as possible because it makes the web more user friendly. But how much further can we go? I can’t help but wonder that one day we will all be using the same almost imperceptible minimalist content platform. So minimalist that it has nearly disappeared. Would there still be a need for different user interfaces? Why would we even bother to design them differently if only the content is what really matters?


  1. Wolfgang Weingart: Experiment Buch, double page, 1962, wood print
  2. The pattern library for Airbnb’s minimalist approach to App design.
  3. Andy Warhol: Triple Elvis (Ferus type), 1963
  4. The Sounds of the Universe website feels like a record store.
  5. Virtual Reality: The Tilt Brush