“More white space means that less information is presented. In turn, proportionately more attention shall be paid to that which is made less available. When there is less, we appreciate everything much more.” John Maeda, The Laws of Simplicity.
When my daughter returned from a trekking trip in Nepal, she valued a hot bath and a meal that wasn’t mainly lentils much more than before she went. In the ‘white space’ of walking up mountains and living in a tent, priorities change.
John Maeda’s book doesn’t take long to read. It is deliberately simple. His writing straddles the worlds of design, business, technology and life in general.
The quote above refers to the layout of text or graphics. But equally, I think, Maeda is talking about the need for more ‘white space’ in our busy, Facebooking, Twittering, emailing, mobile phoning, socialising, working, TV watching, radio listening lives. We are in danger of drowning in information. It becomes difficult to breathe with so many facts and opinions gushing in from all sides. (Interestingly, Maeda takes some of the blame for contributing those irritating animated pop-up ads that clutter our computer screens.)
The book guides you through 10 ‘laws’ of simplicity. The tenth, in case you are in a hurry to cut to the chase, combines all the wisdom of the other nine and tells you all you need to know: “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”
Working out what is meaningful for you, and finding ways of paying attention to those things, activities and relationships seems like an elegant way to cut through the clutter.