My Rating of “The Laws of Simplicity” by John Maeda: 6 / 10
In the interests of simplicity, my book review of “The Laws of Simplicity” could be a simple list the 10 laws and 3 keys. I could leave it to you in deciding on whether to read it or not? Maybe this approach is too simplistic or perhaps it violates law 5 (i.e. differences). For example to support law 5 there needs to be a balance between simplicity and complexity.
With the above fun out of the way, The Laws of Simplicity is a short and easy read. It aligns with the laws set out by Maeda where he shares his learnings as an MIT professor and designer. His aim is to provide the reader with a “Simplicity 101” handbook. As such each chapter is structured as a collection of micro-essays revolving on each law and rule in question.
My biggest criticism with this book is that it is not a timeless book. The laws themselves are timeless however the examples and stories associated were not. I would have liked better examples given the current world we live in (which has a tremendous amount of complexity). Due to the shortness and age of this book, I would have liked more detail and relevant examples.
As mentioned, The Laws of Simplicity is a quick read. It is still relevant thinking on simplification of ideas, products, services or approaches.
Three key takeaways from the book:
- Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.
- “Form follows function” gives way to a more emotion led approach to design which is “feeling follows form.”
- The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove. But be careful of what you remove.