What does 'minimalism' mean to you? [Setups] | Cult of Mac

What does ‘minimalism’ mean to you? [Setups]


Would you say this setup is minimalistic, or something else?
Would you say this setup is minimalistic, or something else?
Photo: Leftover_Waffle@Reddit.com

Along with a photo of an extremely spare, or even bare, computer setup, Redditor Leftover_Waffle titled their recent post with the question, “Do you guys like minimalism?” Then they walked away and let the comments pour in.

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At Cult of Mac Setups HQ, we’ve seen a lot of spare setups. In a way, the comments in Waffle’s post reflect some of our past coverage. Different people have different ideas about what minimalism even means.

That’s one way to make cable management easy

Waffle’s setup features a dark-stained Karlby desktop sitting on two sets of black Ikea Alex drawers. On the desk is a MacBook Pro, a desklamp in one corner and a water bottle and a small plant in the other corner. Then there’s a nondescript office chair. That’s it.

The setup features nearly no visible cables. But, then, why would it have any, with so little equipment to wire? The laptop is not plugged in, from the looks of it. The only other cable comes from the lamp, tucked discreetly behind the desk. Nonetheless, praiseful comments for outstanding cable management poured in.

Helpful advice in the comments suggested Waffle get an external monitor and mount it on the wall. They might add a mechanical keyboard or at least a thin silicone keyboard cover for the laptop. Perhaps a docking station for the MacBook and some more-interesting lighting.

Minimal or empty?

To Waffle’s title question, replies varied and some debate ensued.

“I love minimalism,” said one. “This however just looks ‘I just moved in.'”

“People seem to have a misconception of minimalism and use the word for any situation a room looks empty,” said another.

A third observer went for an even-handed assessment.

“To be fair, I think minimalism means a little bit of something different to everyone,” she said. “Is it a life of just having and using the bare necessities with a bit of flair here and there or is it excess in some areas with lack of unnecessary clutter just to fill space? For others maybe it’s something different than either of those.”

Another person pointed out a whole Subreddit on the theme: r/laptopondesk, entitled “Pictures of laptops on desks.” And at least some of those are on stands for ergonomic purposes, another subject that came up in Waffle’s post.

Utilitarianism versus aestheticism

In Cult of Mac‘s considerable history of covering minimalist setups, some have been almost brutally utilitarian while others have made their spareness more of an artistic pursuit.

In our interview with Scottish novelist Matt Gemmell, we focused on his extreme minimalism in order to focus all of his attention on writing. His little desk has only an iPad Pro locked into a text editor, a mechanical keyboard, noise-cancelling headphones and a desk lamp in the corner.

Veering toward minimalism for the cause of productivity as well as beauty, Milo Kahney wrote about several marvelously spare setups in 2020. They included “This desk has a minimalism level of over 9,000” and “This setup has a minimalism level well over 9,000.” The setups featured nearly empty desks, yet plenty of computing power and even a fair number of peripherals and accessories.

Many folks go to great effort to get the setup’s symmetry and lighting right. And they spend a lot of time getting every touch just right with epic cable management.

And some artsy people look like they set out to get their workstation into the Museum of Modern Setups, if ever one is established.

What does minimalism in a setup mean to you? How would you improve an extremely spare setup? Tell us in the comments section below.

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If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.

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