Monday, February 18, 2013

Laws of Simplicity

Last week I posted a video on Facebook of RISD President John Maeda speaking at a 'Stem to Steam' symposium. And while the idea's around 'Stem to Steam' are way cool I was reminded of how I discovered John Maeda in the first place and the impact of a book he wrote had on me.


It was a while ago now, I was working on a project before Andrew Mitchell & Co. and was Google searching for design concepts around human factors in color interpretation.  I was about to hire a designer to build a website but wanted to learn more about these things beforehand.

And this is when I discovered John Meada and his book The Laws of Simplicity, written while he was running the computer science dept. at MIT.  Two quotes popped up under a couple of my keyword search results that caught my attention straight away.  The quotes were these.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” 
  “If you are going to have less things, they have to be great things.” 

This book has incredible insights around embedding simplicity into all areas of life, learning, working and living a whole life with wonderfully conceptualized and effective simplicity.  All of it is presented in such an orderly and simple way that it almost belies the challenges and complexities to overcome in order to have the simplicity of which he speaks.  

Not too long ago I was speaking with a local writer about his own work and he said something that I think closely relates to how tough it is to have a simplicity that works; a simplicity that improves your life, makes you more comfortable, effective and happier.  

As a writer this guy was of course talking about writing but his comment below reminded me of the core issue in achieving simplicity that improves your life.  It takes a great deal of thought and a lot of effort.
"I'm sorry I wrote such a long letter, 
I didn't have the time to write a short one"

Peace and roll strong.

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