John Maeda: Blending Art and Design For a Simpler Life

Steffie Verstappen
September 10th, 2010
Article by: Steffie Verstappen
John Maeda: Blending Art and Design For a Simpler Life

PEOPLEJohn Maeda is all about simplifying the complex, which is becoming more and more important because of our technology-based culture and our increasingly interconnected world. There is an interesting paradox here: the complexity of our world inspires most of us to be longing for a simpler life. How to achieve this is the million dollar question. Maeda's theories hint in the direction of the "species of mind" of artists and designers to enter new, atypical sectors that they haven't touched yet, so that simplification may be achieved in unexpected ways.


John Maeda gives simplification a shot by looking at how art and design can be blended together to create added value in unexpected ways. In this light, it was he who coined the term "Laws of Simplicity" (a book by this title was published in 2006) and proposes ten laws for simplifying complex systems in business and life, but mostly in product design.


Maeda: "Artists are able to imagine so well. Designers are able to organize so clearly. This species of mind can be leveraged in the sciences and in business. (...) I am curious about how that same innovative creative power can be used in so many sectors that it has not touched yet. Whether it be related to the current financial crisis and how to visualize that, or whether it is related to long-term disease questions. That is something that I think art and design can enter and where it can change the game."


John Maeda is a world-renowned graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist at the MIT Media Lab, who advocates for "simplicity" in the digital age. Maeda's highly-regarded theory of Simplicity, is at once a philosophy, a creative manual, and a business manifesto. Esquire magazine named him as one of the 21 most important people for the twenty-first century. He has had major exhibits of his work in Paris, London, New York, and Tokyo, and has written several books on his philosophy of "humanizing technology" through his perspective on the digital arts.




Read more about how Maeda's theories continue to develop and see his personal blog on creative leadership.


Watch John Maeda describe how design is helping reinvent business for the 21st century.