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February 24, 2020

A guide to minimalist design

By: Luke

Dashes Graphic

It can be tempting to add all sorts of ideas into your collection. But with so many options out there how exactly can you refine your aesthetic? Whether you want to edit your existing collection or start afresh for next season, a minimalist design process could be just what you need to finally break through the noise and discover your brand identity. 

What is minimalist design?

Minimalist design is most associated with Sweden (thanks IKEA!) but it has roots in the ancient Japanese Zen Movement too. It’s been popular for decades and is used in everything from interior design to web design. The movement is essentially all about stripping things back to basics. 

No unnecessary colours, shapes, textures or features – just good, functional design that has minimal focal points. The effect is a calming aesthetic that allows customers to bring their mind into focus. 

Many people wrongly believe minimalist designs to be dull or sterile but it’s actually a great way to keep designs bold and impactful. Using minimalist design philosophies can also help you to redefine your aesthetic or cultivate a more simplistic, commercially effective look. 

Start with function 

With minimalist design it’s important to first consider the purpose of the design. This is because establishing how your product will be used determines how it looks, even subconsciously. For example a fancy raincoat is no good if it isn’t waterproof and a dog bed won’t be used if it isn’t soft and comfortable. 

A minimalist designer therefore always prioritises function. They’ll consider accessibility and useful elements while keeping the purpose in mind. A minimalist designer will also take care to avoid decorative elements that may confuse the customer.

Instead they start with the bare minimum and add features and design elements only if they add value to the product.

Create distinct visuals

When you’ve ensured the functionality of your product, you can then begin to bring in design elements. In minimalist design creating ‘visual hierarchy’ is the sole aim of the design process. This means allowing your customer to focus on one area of design. 

The minimalist design process works like this:


Keep use of colour intentional. While monochrome and muted or neutral colour palettes are popular within minimalism, you can still be vibrant with stand out splashes of well chosen shades. 


Be strict with proportions and consider where products need volume and where they need to be more fitted. Also consider your fabric choices – too many textured fabrics will distract the eye


Leave negative space so that the customer has room to enjoy the details of the design. But also embrace the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi by allowing for imperfections and handmade effects. 

Do you practice minimalist design?

At GB Labels, we’re all about celebrating the work of independent designers and brands. So if minimalist design is your thing, tag us in your photos on Instagram and we’ll share your designs with our followers. 

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