Small and Simple

John Maeda is a genius. One of the most enlightening things I’ve read in a while is his idea concerning small and large items and our expectations about something big or something small.

When we find that something small exceeds our expectations we are amazed and will likely say, “I can’t believe all of that came out of such a small thing!” However, when something large exceeds our expectations, our sense of awe is considerably lower. John says, “The smaller the object, the more forgiving we can be when it misbehaves.”

Something that is larger than us demands a rightful respect, but something small deserves our pity. The science of making an object appear fragile is a skill that has been practiced for ages in art. The iPod is a singularly great example of something appearing fragile but exceeding our expectations based on size.

“Pity”, says John, “gives way to respect when much more value is delivered than originally expected.” This is especially true when, through technology, we can hide functionality within simplistic design.

There is even more. When an object is small and simple and functionality is hidden for the owner to manage the items complexity, the object must also convey an embodiment of value.

The combination of these three attributes creates a unique end result. It can bring us to the place where how the things we own feel actually changes how we feel.

John says it best when he says, “Lessen what you can and conceal everything else without losing the sense of inherent value.”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Books I'm Reading, Creativity, Cultural Ideas, Influence

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