I was gonna post this book suggestion but I felt it deserved a thread and maybe some discussion. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda is a book I picked up a couple years ago in the art section at Barnes and Noble. I had my doubts but it was cheap and very light, only one hundred pages. Turns out it was a great choice. John has a site for it here Apparently he is the pres of RISD now, so I feel safe taking his advice as an authority on design.
I would love to just hand the book out but I know that's illegal but there is no laws that say I can't give some excerpts or quotes and give my interpretation of the chapters. I still encourage any of you to buy this book. You could probably find it less than $10 on amazon if you tried.
In the preface there is a brief anecdote then John details how to apply his laws. They can stand alone or be used together. The laws are laid out in groups of three. Each group relates to a "level" of simplicity from basic to deep. These groups could also be inferred as practical, meaningful and philosophical. In other words they lead from physical simplicity to metaphysical simplicity, at least in some sense. There are also three keys for "achieving simplicity in the technology domain." But I believe they can be applied to composition or design.
Without further adieu:
I'll be posting excerpts and anecdotes from the book in order over the next couple weeks.Ten Laws1) Reduce: The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.
2) Organize: Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.
3) Time: Savings in time feel like simplicity.
4) Learn: Knowledge makes everything simpler.
5) Differences: Simplicity and complexity need each other.
6) Context: What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.
7) Emotion: More emotions are better than less.
8) Trust: In simplicity we trust.
9) Failure: Some things can never be made simple.
10) The One: Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.
Three Keys1) Away: More appears like less by simply moving it far, far away.
2) Open: Openness simplifies complexity.
3) Power: Use less, gain more.