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The minimalist gurus


The joke was that it took a lot of money to keep Gandhi in poverty. The mud hut, the goat milk, the minimal dhoti - it all went to reinforce the theory that human life possessions tend to become crutches. He saw excessive consumption as a source of social, political and environmental violence and the very root of imperialism. He famously cleaned his own toilet and insisted that Kasturba do so too. When the charkha in the Indian flag was replaced with the Ashoka Chakra, it left Gandhiji distressed because he wanted India to be a nation that shunned materialism.


The founder of LifeEdited went from being a 20-something, dot-com multimillionaire and reckless consumerist to an expert on minimalism. Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy is the motto of LifeEdited. The company's first project showed how a New York apartment with over 1, 000 square feet could be fitted into one of only 420. He is now working on constructing homes and interiors that fit his philosophy that less is more.


Jobs embraced minimalism in the products he designed for Apple as well as his personal life. "All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo, you know, and that's what I had, "Jobs said of his bachelor home. Even later, an Apple executive describes his home thus: . . . he had almost no furniture in it. He just had a picture of Einstein, whom he admired greatly, and he had a Tiffany lamp and a chair and a bed. Not that he could not afford anything fancier but Jobs chose to wear his black mock turtleneck, blue jeans and sneakers even at ambitious product launches.


Japanese architect Toyo Ito, 71, bagged this year's prestigious Pritzker architecture prize for his innovatively minimalist designs. His plan, he says, is to "erase conventional meaning... through minimalist tactics" including architecture that "resembles air and wind". After the tsunami, Ito and other Japanese architects worked on the 'Home-For-All' project. The creation of these minimal homes for victims, he says, forced him to look at the very meaning of architecture again.


Where others think flamboyance, Giorgio Armani thinks simplicity. Known for his sleek, chic and minimalist designs, Armani has dressed powerbrokers and heartbreakers in tailored clothing for the past three decades. The Italian designer revolutionised the wardrobes of professional women in the 1980s, taking them out of floral skirts and putting them into deconstructed pantsuits in elegant neutral colors. Expansion of the brand saw him take his minimalist and sophicticated aesthetic into hotel design. Not everyone though is a big fan of the maestro of minimalism's work. Of the Armani Hotel Milano, a modern building, Roberto Cavalli said, "It looks like a psychiatric hospital".

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