Can Design Be Too Simple?

  • 2 minutes reading time


Design is the art of expressing thoughts. It is a freehand manifestation of vision. It is the draftsman’s job to use lab instruments to reflect that vision into precision. The purpose of design is to understand how best we can absorb natural elements spread all around us.

Lack of knowledge creates too many complexities around us. Outside wisdom is unlikely to remove these intricacies. It is from the study of the self, through concentration and practice, emerges design. Total simplicity of the cosmic order. From creation to another creation, and yet another. Unlimited forms, shapes, variants and matter — all bound together by the invisible force of life.

Symmetry in true harmony, yet not perfectly symmetrical. Continuous friction causing everything to turn round-cornered. How visually appealing look the electrons in an atom, or iOS icons! It is that appeal in the design that raises inquisitiveness to know more of the unknown. Sometimes, even surpassing logic.

Inter-dependence is intrinsic to design. Just like in a machine, different parts behave differently to serve distinct objectives; and to that end not only do they work in harmony but also are interdependent, to receive and to deliver, meeting the intended aim. Civilization, spread through thousands of years of natural evolution, has established societies functioning with different classes of people in total inter-dependence. A similar inter-dependence is between How and Why. When you understand the objective and the context of a work, that’s when you answer How and start to make it useful. I couldn’t have framed this any better than Frank Chimero, in his book ‘The Shape of Design.’

The relationship between form and purpose—How and Why—is symbiotic. But despite this link, Why is usually neglected, because How is more easily framed. It is easier to recognize failures of technique than those of strategy or purpose, and simpler to ask “How do I paint this tree?” than to answer “Why does this painting need a tree in it?”

Design is future. It is a reaction against the contemporary, both technology and belief system. It is basically a blueprint which lays the foundation for newer development. Design is simplification, but not just limited to the removal of clutter: Just how Sir Jony Ive (SVP of Design, Apple) says, how the whole thing works on so many levels; bringing order to complexity; giving the user what they want only when they want it. From a watch to a coffee mug to a scooter, there is a profound beauty in simplicity, clarity, and efficiency.

I believe in design, not decoration.

Making things useful, not usable.

Experiences, not interfaces.

Illustrated portrait of Anand

About the author

Anand Chowdhary

Anand Chowdhary is a creative technologist and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CTO of Pabio, an interior design and rent-to-own furniture company funded by Y Combinator. He lives in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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