Beauty in Limitation
August 8, 2020 -- 2 minutes
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I think everyone has a few “internet-only” hobbies. By this, I mean activities that they are interested in or like to read about, but don’t actively pursue in their daily lives.
For me personally, one of these interests is people living in small spaces. And it seems like I’m not alone, based on the rapid growth of channels like Living Big in a Tiny House on YouTube! I really enjoy seeing how many different ways people can start with the same basic structure (usually a 24’ by 8’ box on a trailer) and turn it into a functional, comfortable living space suited to their needs.
Another (less common, I believe) thing I like to follow is pixel art, which is art people create on a low-resolution digital canvas, usually using only a small number of distinct colors (like a 16-color or 32-color palette). It originated during the 2D era of video games (think the SNES or Sega Genesis), but has since taken on a life of its own – check out the subreddit or a few twitters for some good examples.
The point, anyway, is that as I go over these interests (and others) in my mind, I’m starting to find a common theme – limitation.
The examples I gave are useful because they each have a more “normal” counterpart (regular houses and regular art, respectively) that I have almost no interest in. But that’s weird, isn’t it? To only appreciate something when it’s a particularly restricted version of its kind? It’s becoming clear to me, though, that that restriction is precisely why I like to read about these efforts.
Why do I particularly enjoy seeing new tiny house designs? Because they’re a stark contrast to the usual kinds of houses often seen in non-urban America. The extremely limited square footage means that there is no wasted space, no questionably-necessary 3rd bathrooms or “bonus rooms”. Instead, every division of space, every piece of furniture, is carefully considered and deliberately included. This is beautiful to me, and I enjoy seeing the interesting choices people make to fit the things that are important to them. Everything’s a trade-off, after all!
Having a strict set of rules for a work means you have to get more creative than you’d otherwise be to achieve what you have in mind – and having a very small set of resources (space, size, color) at your disposal means that everything you do decide to include is just as much about what you choose to exclude. This thoughtful balance is the beauty of limitation, and I love finding more examples of it in the world.