Health

I’m Not Saying Minimalism Is Homophobic, But

Yes, minimalist interior design is probably super beneficial for your mental health, but what of my tchotchkes! My knickknacks! My things!
September 30, 2019, 4:57pm
minimalism, interior design, homophobic, minimalist
Courtesy of The Altman Brothers at Douglas Elliman

The minimalist agenda strikes again.

Speaking to Forbes (or really, its barely-policed contributor network, a veritable Wild West of questionably-sourced takes), a bunch of interior design experts and health professionals weighed in over the weekend on the wellness benefits of living in a minimalist home. Unnecessary furniture is inhibiting, they say, while clutter can prove too stimulating. “Living in a place with high or low visual complexity is stressful,” advised Sally Augustin, a practicing design psychologist and American Psychological Association Fellow. Their insights mirror a lot of the pro-minimalism propaganda we’ve suffered over the better part of the last decade—the efficiency-oriented, borderline Randian philosophy that connects utility with moral goodness and asks us to cast aside anything or anyone that’s not clearly, immediately useful.

Now [hitches thumbs in the suspenders I’m not wearing], I might not be one of your big city practicing design psychologist and American Psychological Association Fellows, but I take issue with this here wellness advice. For all the ways that my cluttered room, filled with its ever increasing number of tchotchkes and knickknacks, stresses me the hell out when I’m trying to be functional (Did I leave my keys on top of my functional Tarot decks or my decorative Tarot decks? Why do I keep tripping on this pile of orange blocks I put in the corner purely because they look cute? Is this the pink satin dress I keep around because it fits me or the one that’s too small that I only keep in my closet for the Puce Moment fantasy when I flip through the hangers?), but…it’s camp! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In case you completely blacked out during the endless “What is camp?” discourse pegged to the 2019 Met Gala earlier this year, camp is a queer aesthetic sensibility that finds humor and beauty in places where the straight world would tell us there is none. Many turn to Susan Sontag to properly define camp, but I think The Simpsons does a way better job than ol’ Mrs. Notes ever did. In the 1997 episode “Homer’s Phobia,” a local gay shopkeeper voiced by John Waters tells the cartoon family’s bald-headed patriarch that camp is a way of finding humor and appreciation in “the tragically ludicrous” and “the ludicrously tragic.” Tag yourself, I’m tragically ludicrous.

I don’t keep that giant wall display of a woman wearing lots of makeup that just says “MAKEUP” in large, lipstick-scrawled letters because it’s good for my mental health. I keep it because it’s a big picture of a woman wearing makeup and that says makeup. I don’t think I can explain that any clearer—in fact, it might be detrimental to mine own mental health to do that, so I’ll just wrap this all up by saying that minimalism might be homophobic (not to mention racist and classist)? Discuss.

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