Make way for maximalism: Gen Z says less is boring

Make way for maximalism: Gen Z says less is boring

With the onset of the 2020s, Gen Z is visibly claiming their place in the world with bold outlooks and even bolder aesthetics. Gen Z are proudly experimenting with their identity, having grown up on a stubborn internet and through confusing lockdowns. They bring culture change with organic shapes, colorful elements and contradictory patterns that dominate art, media, fashion and interior design. The trend is pushing back on once-reigning minimalism, screaming Venturi Less is a bore.

A flashy design theme leaps over social media algorithms, garnering a follow more and more. Its characteristics mark the resurrection of a recurring trend: maximalism. As the name suggests, maximalism is about maximizing everything from shades and textures to materials and shapes. In interior design, it manifests as a hyper-personal space that bursts with visual stimulation. Mrs. Pink from Weird and Rescue duly reflects the maximalist mindset by saying “You can never have too much of a good thing”.

Maximalist interiors have mastered the art of More is more by presenting contrasting elements in complete palettes. An accumulation of plants, paintings, collections, and keepsakes polishes the look while adding a layer of personality to the space. Today, most eclectic pieces are inspired by the memphis movement and postmodern styles. Maximalism also promotes a decolonized view of design by bringing back elements that were too “kitschy” for the elders in power.

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Unlike cancel culture or viral trends on the internet, Gen Z didn’t invent maximalism. Much like the design style itself, the history of maximalism is covered in influences. The trend goes back to 16th century Europewhen the rich publicized their taste for excess through paintings of heavily furnished bedrooms. After a few decades of obscurity, the style reappeared in Victorian homes as a form of self-expression and identity. Maximalism continued to grow and decline with its “minimalism” counter-movement, following economic booms and recessionsand the ultimate pursuit of shiny new thing.

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Interior design from the Memphis Milano movement. Image courtesy of Zanone
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Mansion of Baron AL Stieglitz by Luigi Premazzi. Image courtesy of Stieglitz Museum Library

Maximalism is certainly one of Gen Z’s many rebellions against the habits of older generations, like how they disrupt the culture of architectural work. The blockages also pushed the pendulum away from minimalism, towards more dynamic and stimulating environments. At that time, TikTok emerged as a window into various lifestyles, inviting people to sample interior trends. With more free time and online resources, DIY home renovations have grown in popularity. Maximalism burst through the walls of monotonous houses, their frustrated inhabitants hungry for visual excitement.

“Gen Z really embraces individualism, and social media platforms are a great resource for discovering interior styles that speak to them,” say the famous TikTok maximalists Josh and Matt. Without sample manuals, maximalism is an outlet for exploration and self-discovery. The style encourages an organized hoarding of meaningful items and an ornate display of personality. Colors, patterns and shapes are layered to create spaces unique to the individual. Thanks to maximalism, homes become museums of personal interests, hobbies and treasured memories.

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Steph Wilson’s maximalist apartment. Image © Steph Wilson

The maximalism we see today follows the blueprint of its parent tendencies with the influence of contemporary societal values. After an age of millennial minimalism, 2020s maximalism still carries the eco-conscious sentiments of its predecessor. Although the trend seems to glorify a materialistic lifestyle, Gen Z maximalists echo anti-consumerist philosophies.

The emphasis on sustainability gives the familiar trend a refreshing look, the result of online designers spreading advice on reducing, reusing and recycling in style. Josh and Matt love sharing their vintage finds and upcycled decor for their maximalist Melbourne apartment. “At this critical time, we feel responsible to educate about the ways in which maximalism can take a sustainable and circular approach,” the duo told ArchDaily.

As long as each decor piece is consciously chosen with sustainability in mind, maximalists can maintain a low environmental footprint. Furniture and finishes must be able to last and remain in circulation, minimizing the amount of waste generated. TikTok maximalism glorifies repurposed items, and online communities happily swap coins with each other. Since maximalism has no rules, individual design elements can never go out of style.

“The idea of ​​sustainability shouldn’t be tied to one type of interior style,” emphasize Josh and Matt, “Rather than finding the most sustainable style, we should be finding ways to make any style more sustainable”. Creativity is at the heart of maximalism. His philosophy only motivates a new wave of maximalists to innovate sustainable alternatives. With more decentralized systems and access to information, Generation Z will surely advance the design industry with sustainability at the forefront.

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