Prioritizing design time by durability, not populist beauty
A refinement of the “less is more” tool:
Subtract rather than add: this rule must be understood in the sense of reaching simplicity, getting at the essence of the object by eliminating anything superfluous until no further simplification is possible.
Wherever possible one must make a choice of materials for the object and also a choice of techniques. For example, makers of motor-car bodies still produce thousands of parts and useless refinements simply to please the questionable taste of the public. The money they spend to gratify this taste (which apart from everything else changes each season) could be spent on making this worship of an ephemeral kind of beauty into a stable appreciation of authenticity. This would reduce production costs and lead to a simpler and more genuine product. An object stamped out in one piece, with the minimum of working hours needed for finishing, is the ideal that a designer ought to work towards.
— Design as Art by Bruno Munari
In writing, you’re told to shorten and cut: less is more. This idea shows up in most all creativity and productivity theories. The phrasing seems crude, though: you don’t want to gratuitously cut to the none.
Munari’s refinement of the concept, here, gets closer: too much is ugly, layering on things needed beyond the function of the object is ugly.
Being mindful of industrial design, he also emphasize that design must account for affordable storage and shipping of the object. His essay, here, is about a tall, plastic lamp that accordion-like collapses into a thin profile (you’ve probably seen many similar collapsible lamps, esp. at IKEA).
“Less is more” doesn’t need to be about stripping down to literally less, but can just mean eliminating what’s not needed and, maybe, what fashionable at the time.
- Mencken’s writing - at the time, Mencken was a great celebrity critic and literally figure. His writing is precise, but expansive. His subject matter can be ancient - William Jennings Bryan, anyone? To our tastes and subject matter now, Mencken needs an editor, he could cut a lot. He also uses lots of big words, another thing that clunks to our tastes. In contrast, Orwell is spare, and his subject matter is slightly less forgotten. I’m not sure how to assign value to that expansive writing versus that spare writing. I suppose the question is one or function (design, even!): to are you looking to sit in a warm bath of snark, or get in and?
- “Social media” - if you’re writing a pop-psychology/culture book, complaining about social media seems like a ritual. You know, it’s destroying the discourse or something. This quickly gets stale, though, like all those wing-dings on cars that Munari bemoans. It’s like complaining that the penny-press of the early 1800’s opened up political participation to “the people” and opened up the populism hole for Jackson. Oooo! That penny-press! Usually when authors spend a chapter complaining about the penny-press, the telegraph, posters, TV, or “social media” they just mean that their ideas and methods of thinking don’t fit into the popular medium of the day. Those complaints quickly die out and seem old after awhile. Try not to complain about mediums. (Indeed, the quick, micro nature of one minute videos and Tweets would seem to be a perfect match for “less is more.)
It’s not only words that can be excess, but ideas.
How to eat peaches
More of my tiny videos in YouTube.
Relative to your interests
- Robots replace humans - ‘[Based in studying trends from 1990 to 2007,] each additional robot added in manufacturing replaced about 3.3 workers nationally, on average… That increased use of robots in the workplace also lowered wages by roughly 0.4 percent during the same time period.’
- TiKTok’s content evolution from dance videos to the usual meme-hacks - ‘Most meme accounts on TikTok aren’t monetizing yet. But as they continue to share a deluge of messy, reposted and remixed content, they are slowly changing the nature of the platform. Especially for younger users, TikTok is no longer synonymous with dance challenges and skits, it’s where they go to consume news, commentary, and the most viral videos on the internet. And teenagers hope to dominate this new landscape.’
- Staying home in restaurants - ‘Amatriciana’
- On bucket lists - ‘I mean, death is quite different from a finish line. There’s nothing after the finish line. You can’t enjoy that you won the race, so it isn’t really … life is not a game in that sense, ‘Oh now I have done the seven things that I would like.’ I mean, yes, you know, I am well aware my time is limited, but I am not sure what conclusion to draw from it.’