So you’ve probably heard that Kim Kardashian, famous for her reality show which obsessively chronicled her personal life, is now launching minimalist designed bathroom accessories priced at $355, that will fit right in alongside a collection of Skkn by Kim skin-care products.
Before we delve any deeper into this, I’d like to provide a brief history of the actual concept of minimalism, where it began from, and why it is important. Before minimalism became an adamant art form in the 1960s and 70s, there was a German movement decades earlier called Bauhaus. It gained such popularity through its innovation that there was an actual studio space called the Bauhaus School in Weimar. In the 1920s, it advocated for designs that used the least amount of material possible (understandable since they just came out of the first world war). According to Panomo Magazine, “(Designers) Marcel Breuer, Mart Stram, and their cohorts articulated this goal for a number of practical reasons: less expensive manufacturing, greater portability, and easier cleaning. In time though, the stripped back Bauhausian aesthetic became an end to itself. All those slender cantilevered chairs and bent tubular steel structures occupy less space. And minimalists are all about embracing the light airiness that comes with lots of empty space. Minimalist interiors feature not only restrained silhouettes, but also fewer objects overall.”
So the idea was to break free from old European traditions of lavishly decorated homes and to literally ‘let the room breathe’. Architect and designer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously coined the term, ‘Less is More’ around this time to define the brave, utopian ideals of modernist design and architecture. Simpler designs meant simpler storage and less space occupied while getting full functionality of the object. Although, bearing a simple design, the objects were bland. Mies also said, “God is in the details.” The materials used in bringing about the design to life were various and of good quality. An austere design meant that the consumer could experience the full extent of what the material had to offer. “The number of elements may be limited, but each can contribute mightily for maximal impact.” (Panomo Magazine)
Now that we have a grasp on the concept, let’s get back to the 21st century. Kim Kardashian’s range includes five pieces, all available to shop starting Oct. 16. The aforementioned wastebasket ($129), a vanity tray ($65), a tissue box($89), a canister ($65) and a round container ($69). The bundle set of all five items is for $355.
A little about the design: the material used in this line is concrete and nothing but concrete. Hand poured into a mould, the products weigh a good deal (the wastebasket is almost 8 pounds!). Architectural Digest made a video where Kardashian gives us a tour of her house (most would call it a prison but without any distinguishable features), designed by Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt, who is famous for his minimalist and ‘industrial’ architecture. “Good design is as little design as possible,” German designer Dieter Rams wrote in his Ten Principles for Good Design. “Less, but better—because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity; back to simplicity.” The question now is: does that apply to Kim Kardashian’s new bathroom accessories line?
In an interview with Architectural Digest, Kardashian said, “I think having the concrete material and monochromatic design are important for my mental wellness. I find that there is so much chaos out in the world that when I come home, the minimalist design creates a sense of quiet and calm.” True to minimalism’s ideology, muted tones are said to bring about a serenity, and it seems that she has an understanding of what it really is about: “I wanted to marry art and functionality.” Can we really dispute the argument? Absolutely. Her claim on functionality is absurd. According to the brand’s website had the following care instructions:
“Fragile, handle with care.
– Clean with a smooth, wet cloth with mild detergent. Due to the cement’s rough surface, we don’t recommend using microfibre or terrycloth towels.
– Do not submerge in water while cleaning. The cement dries slowly.
– Do not expose to excess sunlight. It may cause cracks in the concrete.
– Do not clean with anything that could stain the concrete.”
The accessories are meant to be utilised in a bathroom and ironically, water will ruin them.
Additionally, the way she advertised it made it seem more of a capitalistic venture focused on promoting her skincare line: “I’m also so excited to share the Vanity Tray with everyone—it is the perfect, neutral base to display the Skkn by Kim skin-care collection, and together everything just looks so chic and gorgeous.” This is where it gets problematic: is this new collection just a display for her previous line of skincare? Is she selling her ‘brand’ one lifestyle element at a time? Would you pay $355 (PKR. 78,000) for a set of five items in unembellished concrete?
Scottish writer, Richard Holloway said that, “Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.” What he failed to mention is that this ideology should be practiced by one’s own individuality and personal means, not to succumb to capitalistic ventures making already rich people rich. My own sincere advice to our readers would be to explore what a minimalist lifestyle means to you, and practice it according to your OWN brand.
If you must follow Mother Kardashian doctrine, I suggest you go to your local cement mason and have your bathroom accessories (why stop there? Add a table or two for the living room) designed for a mere fraction of the price.
END OF ARTICLE