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Thursday, 9 November 2017


Quick "Trust but Verify" test.

What's the first thing that comes into your mind when you read or hear this word - minimalism?

Close your eyes and no peeking below!

If you "see" minimalism as in architecture, art, literature, music, fashion, and home decor, you are on the right track. You are Western educated - "ang moh pie".

You know minimalism is a visual arts movement that started around the late 60s in the States.

If you think of Zen, you are also "technically correct" since minimalism got some of its influences from Japan. In Japan, the philosophy of Zen got intertwined with the Japanese aesthetics of simplicity or ma (間) - empty or open space. You are more Oriental biased.

You know your aesthetics. Wink.

No. Minimalism is not about saving money or frugality.

Minimalism is about stripping down to its bare essentials, aesthetically speaking.

Yes, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are "minimalistic" when it comes to their work clothes - its the same turtuleneck and T-shirt - although they may own 10 pieces of the same clothe!

Not exactly "frugal" is it?

Minimalism is not about using the same detergent for washing your dishes, clothes, and bathing - that's when policemen still wear shorts - you really want to use that Lam Soon long bar soap for dishes, laundry, and bathing now? Seriously?

To appreciate minimalism, one cannot be hungry or worried about roof over head matters.

How come people are talking about minimalistic living or lifestyle in financial blogshpere?

Well, clever marketing isn't it?

I mean if I want to start a blog or sell a book, which sounds sexier - frugal living, "giam siap gui", thrifty squirrel, or the minimalist?

Who wants to be known as a miser?

So you convince your wife minimalism is about having one pair of shoes.

If you wife believed in your "Jedi mind trick", well, I am most envious of you...

That meant she has a pair of big big ding-a-ling-ding-dings! 


  1. For ladies, avoid marrying misers or minimalists unless you are also of the same creatures type. Q

    1. CW,

      For misers and fake "minimalist" - yes.

      Don't say ladies, even I guy also avoid them - what's the point if they're not going to buy me kopi?


      For real minimalists, then its an excellent catch ladies!

      To appreciate minimalist music, art, architecture, you got to have a good Western education and upbringing.

      Which is "code" they weren't brought up in the HDB heartlands ;)

      As for Zen minimalist, OK, got to be careful...

      In Japan, Zen minimalistic homes are usually owned by landed class. That's a good catch!

      But if its minimalistic as in spirituality, well, they are not misers; but they ain't what we call "loaded".

      If you are into intellectually stimulating conversations, then go for it!

  2. Replies
    1. Sanye兄,

      You are still young-at-heart!

      The day we stop learning, that's when we realise what's the point of waking up in the morning?

  3. First thing that came to my mind Muji. Does it mean I have expensive taste? Yikes. Minimalism isn't for me, but I very much like organised simplicity.

    1. Kevin,

      If minimalism is not frugality, the reverse is also true its not about extravagance in taste ;)

      Yes, I do like the clean lines and uncluttered simplicity in Muji's designs too ;)

      Its never about the price tag.

      Its all about taste or aesthetics ;)

  4. Nice insights! Needs VS Wants. But if the whole world revolves around getting their own needs.. many businesses would have folded!!

    When I was reading the first few sentences, the very moment I close my eyes, that’s the minamalist moment :p

    Now.. how many people presently can live without their mobile phones? Before the dot com bubble and the booming IT sector, Information and Technology is a luxury!

    1. sleepydevil,


      I'm thinking of the famous what do you see in a glass of water filled with ice cubes test ;)

      Ink blots!

  5. people could be reading.. 色不异空, 空不异色, 色即是空, 空即是色,

    受想行识, 亦复如是, 舍利子, 是诸法空相, 不生不灭, 不垢不净, 不增不减,

    是故空中无色, 无受想行识, 无眼耳鼻舌身意, 无色声香味触法。

    But many chose to seek for this:

    The best part is .. they’re reading it not for the context, but for the superb martial art powers!

  6. Mimalist or Extravagant?

    i say neither.

    This reminds me of Paul who could lived with plenty or scarcity.

    No worry at all.

    1. temperament,

      My england has failed me...

      I just did my song and dance illustrating minimalism as a style or technique (as in music, design, literature) that is heavily influenced by the concept of empty space and simplicity...

      And you go pair minimalism with extravagance...

      I'll be more impressed if you pair it up with abstract expressionism ;)

  7. Ah....

    i hardly can appreciate the abstracts.

    The subtles i may admire.

    1. temperament,

      写实 - precision in 2 decimal places

      写意 - agar agar du hor

      Ying and Yang.

      Noticed in my comments and blog posts, I do employ the use of "space" besides the slabs of words?

  8. Hi smol

    I only know about minimalist from reading some house deco/ reno forum. Also watch some youtube on minimalist or what u call zen in japanese home reno also. I like that simple idea on decoration but i normally stuck a lot of rubbish in my room... hahaha
    Feel sayang if throw away all my stuff... so only see & envy others people home... hehehe
    Thats only understanding on minimalist in my mine.
    Come to miser or minimalist thinking is other people thinkkng which out of my control... but i personally can not accept miser thinking... we can be frugal but miser is a bit too drastic to me... which i cant accept... just my own thinking lah... hope i dont offended people who read this...

    Cheers :)

    1. sy sy,

      Less than 5% of Japanese homes can be called Zen minimalistic...

      Living in small spaces, no choice but to have clutter in the house like most people in the world :(

      That's why IKEA doing so well globally :)

      And when you see all those home decor megazines on minimalistic decor, you normally see landed homes and bigger condos right?

      Minimalism needs "space". Lots of it!

      Its easy to parrot Minimalism without understanding the underlying philosophy. Especially when its "adopted" as a fashion of the year theme rather than a way of life ;)

      We are not being pedantic. Just basking in the diversity of opinions and views that make this watering hole interesting.

      Frugal I can accept. I ask "budget" readers to meet at IKEA so that it'll only cost 50 cents for the free coffee they treating me - got unlimited refills some more!

      Miserly? 50 cents bigger than a bullock cart? Then there's no point to meet up... I man-whore or what? No kopi; no talk.


      Other people gold digger; I kopi digger :)

      I am cheap.

    2. Yes yes!... most minimalist home deco pictures really have a huge space... thats why i can only envy what others people have this kind of luxury :)
      I see a few deco theme idea and i am more towards on is scandinavia type... simple enough & looks clean also...
      So far i see IKEA are more on this scandi theme & budget also. Another brand i like is muji & scanteak but this 2 a bit ex lah...

      I like to go IKEA for the food :) yum yum... like the hotdog with ice tea meal & ofcos kopi also... 50 cents for refillable kopi is very cheap... too bad now the meatball not as good liao & i also see some people said the chicken wing not so good liao... :(

    3. sy sy,

      That's what I try to hint at my blog post.

      If one really embraced and understood minimalism, its like dining at those "attas" Western restaurants - plates big; food small. Eat not full, still so ex!

      Frugal my foot!


      Its similar with the irony with eating "healthy".

      The price of brown rice is a lot more expensive than white rice!?

      Organic food costs so much more than junk food!?

      See how hypocritical we look when patronizing poor folks to eat "healthy"...

      I also say! I missed the authentic Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam!

      They wouldn't dare do what they did in IKEA Sweden.

      Evidently most Singaporeans can still TELL the DIFFERENCE even though they have never tasted the meatballs in IKEA Sweden before ;)

    4. Wait... u mean they really change the meatball arh??? Why change? Chicken wing also change??? I never go Sweden before, so over there the meatball nice??? How about chicken wing???
      Last time all very nice food... sigh...too bad...

    5. sy sy,

      Its business ;)

      When costs go up and we want to maintain the same profit margin, there's only 3 things we can do:

      1) Raise the selling price. This is best as it meant got pricing power!

      2) Substitute the "inputs" to maintain the same costs and pray customers cannot tell :(

      3) Do 1 & 2 above for the win! Greed is good!

      Have you noticed our Chinese buns and fast food burgers getting smaller and smaller?

      One day they will be bite-sized ;)

    6. you meant the sell fake meatballs saga?

    7. Rainbow girl,

      Or! You die! Cannot write like that!

      Wait you kenna sued for libel...

      No lah! Not that.

      Let's just say the meatballs sold in Singapore are not the same as those sold in Sweden ;)


      Very normal. Wanton noodles will taste "different" in KL, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Taipei.

      Ingredients and sauce "different" mah ;)

  9. My take on minimalism = achieving more with less, no waste, no frills, no clutter...

    1. Rainbow girl,

      Hey, feel free to define your own definition of "minimalism".

      Just like religion can have 1001 denominations from one original source, its a very human thing to "interpret" things in our own way ;)

      Language is very fluid. New meanings are being added to existing words all the time :)

  10. Now everything expensive... seller said inflation lah, oil price up lah, sugar price up lah, tax up lah... blah blah blah
    But when oil price drop, the price never drop... sigh...
    Pity those low income senior citizens... sigh...

    1. sy sy,

      Glad you are doing well now.

      If you are "struggling", you have no time to "pity" others...


      Don't pity others. You wouldn't like it when others "pity" you too.

      Those low income senior citizens may be healthier, happier, have better relationships than us.

      Everyone of us have our own path and karma.


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