The concept of minimalism has been around for centuries but has only recently started picking up steam again, especially among the millennial demographic. The core concept of minimalism is focusing on what is really important in our lives by cutting loose all the materials present in our overly consumeristic lifestyle. While there are several documentaries out there on the topic, we narrowed it down to the four that really get down to the core tenets of the movement.
Here are four minimalism documentaries every beginner should watch:
Minimalism: a Documentary about the Important Things (2016)
As if the title couldn’t be more of a dead giveaway, this is the quintessential (and one of the most popular) documentaries for minimalism beginners. Created by the American duo, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who call themselves “The Minimalists“, the documentary examines and critiques the North American consumerist lifestyle and offers minimalism as an alternative.
Carefully produced and filled with interviews from prominent authors, scientists and media members, Minimalism aims to inform and inspire, both of which it does well. It’s currently streaming on Netflix and is available on Amazon, Vimeo, and iTunes.
TARU WO SHIRU: To Know what is Enough (2014)
This brief documentary captures minimalism lifestyle to its core. Filmed by Rob Lau and available for free on vimeo, Taro Wo Shiru offers a more philosophical take on simple living and expresses the notion of cutting down excesses in order to focus on what really matters.
The short film examines six vignettes of individuals whose lifestyle is opposed to the mainstream North American culture, and touches upon Buddhist and permacultural themes. While it doesn’t go into great detail about minimalism, it serves as a great introduction and is easy to watch with a 15-minute runtime.
TINY: A Story About Living Small (2013)
This doc doesn’t stray far from the previous two, but focuses on tiny house living. Filmmaker Merete Mueller and star Daryl Gibson go through the process of making a tiny house. It’s straightforward and doubles as a DIY documentary for those into home design and alternative lifestyle.
The film goes through the economic and logistical aspects of building the house, while exploring the emotional and mental impacts on the couple. A worthy watch for homebuilding enthusiasts, potential tiny house owners and those just getting into minimalism. Also look for Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary currently streaming on Netflix.
Design is One: The Vignellis (2013)
Not known to many, minimalism has roots to modernism dating back to the 1950s and 1960s where select artists developed the reductive aspects of modernism and became minimalists. Massimo and Lella Vignelli were modern designers whose works from houseware design to furniture design to public signage and showroom design earned them numerous awards and transcendent legacies. “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.”
The Vignellis worked within modernist tradition and focused on simplicity in their use of basic geometric forms. The latter part is a staple for minimalist art and design. This documentary stands out for its focus on the artistic aspect and history of minimalism, as opposed to the lifestyle, and nicely compliments the previous three.