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It is a reaction against over abundant styling, form and decoration that does not add anything to the utility, beauty or performance of the design. Used to describe a trend in design and architecture, wherein the subject is reduced to its necessary elements, highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture like Tadao Ando.
As a movement it began post-World War 2 in Western Art with artists like Donald Judd and Frank Stella. Minimalism in music features repetition and iteration such as those of Steve Reich and Philip Glass.
The term minimalist often refers colloquially to anything that is stripped down to its bare essentials.