Minimalism is primarily an aesthetic, hence why minimalists generally like Macs and iPhones due to their simple and elegant beauty. Minimalists’ decisions about how simple to be often seem arbitrary because they are based on aesthetic concerns, not practical ones — but minimalists often confuse the two. For instance, many people rave about how usable the iPhone is, but in fact it is a mixed bag — what it is, is beautiful. But Apple makes many design decisions to choose beauty over usability, which is why iTunes is so confusing and hard to use for example. Living with less than 100 things is another example — what constitutes a “thing” is arbitrary, “100” is arbitrary (but a nice round number), digital “things” not counting as things is arbitrary, etc. It’s more about a feeling that is generated from the aesthetic in a specific person who likes that aesthetic than about saving money, conserving resources, not being owned by one’s stuff, focusing on what’s most important, etc. which are also concerns but are subject to the overall aesthetic. So when Leo Baubata says “stop buying the unnecessary,” what he really means is “don’t buy ugly things or too many things such that your minimalist aesthetic is ruined.” For what is truly unnecessary to the minimalist is that which ruins the simple aesthetic.
Frugalism on the other hand is about getting more out of life by maximizing value for one’s dollars over time, since life is time and time is money. (more…)