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The Sixth Law of Simplicity

May 30, 2008

Always interested in how to simplify the tangle of modern existence, I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda (2006). Maeda is an award-winning graphic designer, a professor in MIT’s Media Lab, and the founder of the Simplicity Consortium. He writes, “Achieving simplicity in the digital age became a personal mission, and a focus of my research at MIT.”

The book’s subtitle is: Design, Technology, Business, Life. The concatenation of those elements is a lot to ponder in itself, but it’s also fun and fascinating. We are encouraged to consider how design affects our lives and livelihoods.

Maeda identifies ten laws of simplicity; the sixth will illustrate his approach. It is the law of CONTEXT. Once you foreground the background, it is possible to become confused by ambience. To leave the security of filled space and overcome the fear of white space is the challenge. We just need to remember that “There is an important tradeoff between being completely lost in the unknown and completely found in the familiar” (p. 60).

To balance safety and excitement is to achieve simplicity. Or rather, it’s one of ten ways.

This entry was posted by: Nancy
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