My notes from The Laws of Simplicity by Maeda

Here are my notes of "The Laws of Simplicity" by John Maeda

5 Sentence Summary

The acceleration of information and the features/functionalities of technology are leading to a more complex environment. A rapidly changing environment is harder to adapt to with our current culture. It is now becoming easier to change the environment than change our culture. As a general approach we need to take things out and increase the meaning. Do this by what he calls simplification – Many of the things have to do with our reactions (so making things thin and light – which seems to not address the root issue but is more lipstick on a pig, making them fast (though this is a fight fire with fire approach), and putting things into an order (like nature)

Book notes by page number

Our mission is to define the business value of simplicity in communication, healthcare, and play. Together we design and create prototype systems and technologies that point to directions where simplicity-driven products can lead to market success.

People not only buy, but more importantly love, designs that can make their lives simpler.

the simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove.

Of the many tools at the artist’s disposal to achieve enhanced small-ification are lightness and thinness.

the tab key that could lend the magic possibility of creating order from chaos.

“What program do you use?” is a question I often get . . . the proper answer is to counter-suggest the questioning of a different question “What principle do you use?” . . . gridding

When any interaction with products or service providers happens quickly, we attribute this efficiency to the perceived simplicity of experience.

Giving up the option of choice, and letting a machine choose for you, is a radical approach to shrinking the time we might spend otherwise fumbling with the iPod’s scroll-wheel.

Thus choosing when to care less versus when to care more lies at the heart of living an efficient but fulfilling daily life.

… finding the right balance between simplicity and complexity is difficult . . . a solution I have found is in the concept of rhythm, which is grounded in the modulation of difference.

The bridging experience that connects the foreground and background contexts can be made explicit as in a map, or less explicit as in the blue painted markers of the forest

transitions from simple to complex are a key consideration in the rhythm of feeling.

More emotions are better than less.

The best art makes your head spin with questions. Perhaps this is the fundamental distinction between pure art and pure design. While great art makes you wonder, great design makes things clear.

Afterwards, this brave woman came up with a solution that could bridge the gap between message and emotion. With five months left to live, she started a foundation to create intensely artful, beautifully designed centers near oncology units, where those first facing death can soak their minds and hearts. Art- a reason to live – is tempered with design – the clarity of message.

For instance, a “send to Aunt Mabel” button can appear just before her birthday.

B&O doesn’t focus on the quality of sound, but on the quality of leaning back . . . and just enjoying something.

Omakase translates roughly to “I leave it up to you” where “you” refers to the sushi chef. The process is simple. The sushi chef looks at you, does a rough analysis of your general disposition, reflects upon the season and the day’s weather, factors into consideration the variety of fish he has available in his arsenal, forms a rough idea for the optimal menu, starts the process of delivering the meal in measured increments, attentively observes your reaction, and tweaks the meal accordingly.

the more a system knows about you, the less you have to think. Conversely, the more you know about the system, the greater control you can exact.

There’s always an ROF (Return on Failure) when you try to simplify – which is to learn from your mistakes.

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.

More appears like less by simply moving it far, far away. Thus an experience is made simpler by keeping the result local, and moving the actual work to a far away location.


How simple can you make it? << >> How complex does it have to be?
How can you make the wait shorter? << >> How can you make the wait more tolerable?
How directed can I stand to feel? << >> How directionless can I afford to be?
How much do you need to know about a system? << >> How much does the system know about you?

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© Dennis Schleicher Jr 2021.

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