Conscious minimalism: the less is more approach to interior design

Interior designer Alix Lawson shares tips on how to achieve an aesthetic that is complex in its cool simplicity

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I have always been a minimalist at heart and believe there is so much consideration that goes into beautiful simplicity. Materials, lighting and lines all stand out more boldly on a blank canvas, so there is far less room for error and every detail requires a great amount of thought. This thoughtfulness is the essence of Conscious Minimalism; that it does not lack, it lessens. I like to think of it as reducing the volume while increasing the sound quality.

Our studio's recent project in Dubai Hills is really an ode to what I call "conscious minimalism". The concept was "Bottega Veneta meets the desert" and the 3,065-square-metre residential home is an example of quiet, thoughtful design throughout its three storeys. The clean, minimalist interiors show the tides are shifting more towards a raw refinement, focusing on authenticity of materials. We designed the majority of the furniture and lighting ourselves, and commissioned an expansive collection from emerging artists. This includes Aboriginal works in Australia, pieces from British textile designers and European artisans. There is a sculptural feel to a lot of the design, artworks and furniture that sits perfectly against the minimalist backdrop.

Here’s how you can create a similar aesthetic in your own home:

Layer tone on tone

This is an easy way to bring interesting simplicity to any space, be it a living room or bedroom. We used this method in our recent project with a 16-seater dining table, pictured below. We added pops of dark green on the dining chairs to keep the space visually striking without compromising on simplicity.

Keep it natural

Use natural materials to add texture without impeding on the minimalism of a room. An example of this would be to use timber battening and mirrors to create a clean and simple ambience in a bathroom.

Less is more

Pay more attention to using fewer pieces. Instead of cluttering a room with different seating options, for example, focus on one bespoke sofa so that you can do more with less.

The living room in the Dubai Hills project. Courtesy Alix Lawson

Cordon off

Using panels and screens throughout an open-plan space can keep the minimalist aesthetic in check while still creating key zones and sections that add to the “liveability” of a home.

Focus on textiles 

Layering different textures within a neutral colour palette will add depth and character. For example, we used fabric wallpaper in the cinema room to add texture among our neutral hues. Paying more attention to fabrics and materials allows you to curate interesting yet minimalist spaces and pieces. It allows you to focus on the finishes and textiles in your home rather than cluttering the space.  

Stay consistent

And by that, we mean with your flooring. Keeping it the same throughout a storey in your home will give you a cleaner canvas to help your minimalist touches stand out. We used white Namibia stone in our Dubai Hills project throughout the ground and lower ground floors, as well as on the stairway, to open up the space and bring a light simplicity to the home.

Light it up

Lighting is one of the most important elements and has to be considered from the outset. Good lighting will add warmth to what may otherwise be a cold space. We used concealed lighting in the ceilings of the spa to wash the wall and create a "glow" effect, as without the lighting the room would feel far more plain.

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