Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hyperbolic Rant Series: Simple is overrated

Everybody just wants to “keep it simple.” Everyone says “Let's just do a simple design.” All designers think “simple” is always the best answer. It is usually assumed that among all solutions, the “simple” and “minimal” one is the best. Simple is a buzzword. Simple is a trend. Simple is a pretentious, elitist clique.

I am coming out and saying it right now—I hate simple. Simple is boring. Simple is a default. Simple kills ideas. If the simplicity bandwagon continues to pick up followers, every publication, website, graphic, product, piece of furniture, and article of clothing in the world will look exactly the same. Have you noticed that most graphic designers all like the same stuff? Ever noticed how the majority of creative types use and espouse the same brands of fashion, furniture, products, cars, music and clothing? Chances are all those German brands and designer items were designed by the same small group, which, coincidentally, espouses absolute simplicity for everything. It’s especially apparent at large conventions for designers, like AIGA events. I never feel so homogeneous as I do at a large gathering of graphic designers. Ever seen “THX 1138”? That's where we’re headed. Most of us already have the hair.

I knew we were pointed down a dead end when I saw the horrendous failure of industrial design and technology that was the Porche-designed LaCie Hard Drive (not to mention the Neil Poulton hard drive) There are only so many ways you can design a rectangle. Reductionist thinking is a finite path. When will the path come to a dead end?

Now, I’m not saying that “simple” is never the answer. It just might be the answer. But put a little thought into it! Consider all the options! Simplicity is not the only beauty. Let the revolution start today!

I'll stop now before they come barging through the door and take away my designer’s membership card (which has a very simple design, BTW.)

Oh, what's that?

Why yes, I am writing this post on my minimalistic MacBookPro, with an attached simple aluminum-case Apple Cinema Display, on top of a simple plywood-slab table with simple straight cylinder unfinished metal legs, which stands on the simple concrete floor, in my office with minimal white walls, while listening to minimalistic electronic ambient music. Just a disclaimer.

3 comments:

Mommas said...

Brent,
Doug and I just returned from Austria, Italy, Greece, and Croatia. Though we were looking at ancient buildings and not computer graphic designs, I must say the designers of the past did not know simple. Why can't we design buildings like that any more? They created art! We design "buildings". Just a thought. Eileen

Z and L Family said...

Love the rant! from your "oh, so simple-yet complex! friends
Zach and Liz
Congrats to Jill on the volleyball championship

Our pictures look great!

Jenny said...

Wow Brent, You have me thinking in a complex way. I agree that simple is over used and the true meaning of it is becoming complex. The thing is "Simple" was my favorite word.

By the way found your blog off of Trishas blog.