Book review: The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda

I participate in this sort of book club. I say sort of because it did not start as such. It all started as a group of interesting people that met serendipitously and decided to gather once a month over dinner. The idea to recommend and exchange interesting books over those gatherings came naturally during our first encounter.

I was leaving one of those dinners when I noticed a book waiting to be taken home (to somebody’s home at least). The title read: The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda. Three things had caught my immediate attention, by this order: the name of the author, the book cover and the title. I’ve known John Maeda only by reputation and was actually curious to read his work. The book cover is white with a splash of coloured circles. And simplicity is a topic  that I’m interested in.

(a brief note on simplicity: I actually think that the crisis that Europe is currently experiencing is a good opportunity to rethink how we live, what we value, how we spend our money… it is an opportunity to go back to a simpler, and more meaningful, way of life)

Maeda writes about what is or drives simplicity: in the design of everyday objects, in technology, in business and in life. The book is organized into 10 laws, and 3 keys and is writen in a… well… simple and delightful way.

One of my favourite parts (you know the feeling, those that make you smile and say “yes, yes, yes” even if words are not coming out of your mouth because you don’t to appear crazy to the other people also seating in that coffee shop) appeared in Law 7 –  Emotion, that states that “More emotions are better than less“. When thinking about businesses, Maeda states the following:

“Emotional intelligence is now considered an important facet of leaders today, and the expression of emotion is no longer considered a weakness but a desirable human trait to which everyone can immediately  relate. Our society, systems, and artifacts require active engagement in care, attention, and feeling – the business value may not be immediately apparent. But the fulfillment from living a meaningful life is the ROE (Return on Emotion). A certain kind of more is always better than less – more care, more love, and more meaningful actions…”

As a strong defender of the need to bring back humanity, and therefore emotions, back into our businesses, that quote resonated deeply with me.

If you are interested in exploring the different dimensions of simplicity then do not miss this book!


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