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The Complexity of Simplicity

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French novelist

When we first came across this quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, we were blown away by how succinctly it conveyed the essence of what we constantly strive to achieve in our work at Y Studios.

As industrial designers and researchers working in Silicon Valley, we are in a unique position to learn about upcoming technology, gain insights on emerging cultural and consumer behaviors, as well as work with the best minds in start-ups and corporate innovation teams.

It is a great honor and privilege to be at the forefront of change and be involved in providing creative support for nascent businesses and opportunities.

Amidst the excitement is the awesome challenge to create design solutions that simplify complexity, so that it will be easy to understand, intuitive to use and a pleasure to experience.

In navigating through this complex world of new realities like AI, VR, AR and HRI, industrial designers are confronted with a dire need to make better sense of the elevated convolution of how businesses, technologies and consumers intersect and interact now and into the future.

These are exciting times to be an industrial designer. Never before has the confluence of the digital and physical space co-exist so seamlessly before. The challenge is for Industrial Design (ID) to be the tangible experience receptacle in showcasing intangible technologies like AI, VR, AR etc. effectively.

Design can be the real driving force in creating sophisticated but simple, user-friendly product experiences for the end user. As technology continues to become more invisible and complex to understand, ID has the opportunity – and perhaps the obligation – to innovate on more intuitive, prudent and mindful design that grounds technology to make it more relevant and sustainable.

So, how do we "make things simple, but not simpler", as Albert Einstein once opined?

Now, isn’t that the million-dollar question?

Design should have a sense of purpose, a reason for its existence


These are the important elements in our pursuit of simplicity in design. 

As most designers know, it is not easy to design simple. But it is a worthwhile challenge.


Here are some notable quotes on simplicity that we believe in:

An interesting plainness is the most difficult and precious thing to achieve.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, German-American architect

The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity. – Douglas Horton, American clergyman

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. – Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist 

In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian Renaissance artist and inventor

Simplicity in the sense of refinement – making things clearer, more pure, more legible and more accessible. – Konstantin Grcic, German industrial designer

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. – Charles Mingus, African-American jazz musician

Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated. – Paul Rand, American art director and graphic designer

Banner Image Credit: Round Square Teaware by Chuntso Liu

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