"Simplicity can be harder than complexity, you'll have to work hard to adjust your way of thinking to be able to make your thoughts and things around you simple. But it's worth making such an effort, because in the end, once you can achieve simplicity, you can move mountains."
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Technology. (1)
The photos circulated by news agencies and websites, which documented footage of the wedding of Princess Iman, daughter of King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, received wide admiration to the point of fascination, the origin of this admiration is the simplicity of the princess's appearance, and the elegance and sophistication of the comfortable look that she appeared in during her wedding. During the circulating photos, the princess appeared wearing a white silk dress with long sleeves, a high chiffon collar and embroidered with simple flowers. (2)
After the wedding photos were circulated, many praised "simplicity" and its ability to impose a state of elegance and sophistication, and some ridiculed the usual glamor in beautifying brides' faces and choosing grandiose wedding dresses, claiming that all this cost ultimately reflects a degree of ugliness. But what many overlook is that achieving simplicity and being able to cover its cost is not something that is available to everyone, as simplicity can indeed be more difficult than complex, as Jobs said.
From the wedding ceremony of Her Royal Highness Princess Iman bint Abdullah II to Mr. Jamil Alexander Termitz #الأردن pic.twitter.com/AUYXeaKbmz
— RHC (@RHCJO) March 12, 2023
"Simplicity" is endearing to the eye and mind
Although preferences vary from person to person, we share a common trait inherent in our brains: our innate desire to simplify the complexity of the world around us. This is called the "principle of simplicity"(3), and it means that when we are presented with two choices, one complex or complex and the other simple, we automatically choose results that we imagine to be as simple as possible. (4)
Imagine opening a website to search for something specific, only to find that banners and pop-up ads start flashing at once, and you discover that the graphics on the site's interface are spinning and moving, or that the text you're trying to read is blinking. Here, you'll frantically start clicking, closing and minimizing these effects, elements and details, or you'll get confused and annoyed and leave the site completely closed. (5)
Therefore, a lot of designers, whether they work in fashion design, home design, furniture, cosmetics, book covers, website interfaces, visual advertising, and other elements that deal directly with the eye, go for simplicity. It was on this idea that Zen's approach to design, which aims to make the most of it with as little detail as possible, aims to enhance a comfortable user experience and ultimately reach better results.
The minimalism movement has shown that much can be said with very little. (Shutterstock)
The Zen approach is based on the idea of the union between nature and design with the application of a basic law of "less much", this approach is based on the use of soft, pale shades, such as white and gray without frills. This approach to design was inspired by the fusion of Japanese architecture and Buddhist ideas,(6) and because simplicity is popular wherever it is applied, adopting a Zen style is becoming increasingly popular for interior designers. (7)
Also in the early sixties in New York, a design movement called Minimalism emerged, whose idea revolves around keeping things simple. This design movement tries to move away from complex motifs and designs full of details, and includes pieces of art that contain little if not no decoration at all. The minimalism movement has made it clear that a lot can be said with very little, but reducing what you want to say or express to as few words, colors, images, and other details as possible is not easy. (8)
The simplest is more complicated than you might think
Dior Fashion House publishes official photos from the wedding of Princess Iman (Princess of Jordan) wearing a wedding dress that was specially made for her from Dior, carrying in its details elegance and simplicity that attracted all eyes. pic.twitter.com/kYOv8FQBuB
— Classic (@classic_mou) March 18, 2023
Like most things in life, "simplicity" from the outside seems easy, affordable and affordable, but this is not the case, look for example at Princess Iman's dress, which looked elegant and sophisticated from its excessive simplicity, this dress came from the design of the international French fashion house "Dior", and the crown that the princess placed over her head was from Chaumet, brands that take simplicity as an approach, but of course we know that they are expensive brands. (9)
During a TED lecture, Harvard chemistry professor George Whitesides explains the definition of the word "simple" as meaning something to be reliable, predictable, and repeatable. Our love for simple things goes back to being "predictable", we love them because they are easy on our minds, our brains don't have to make a great effort to understand, perceive, handle, obtain, or do simple things. (10)
But because our brains work at a fast pace, this makes us very fooled, describing things that were so complex and difficult to design and implement as "simple", simply because they look comfortable to the eye and are free from cluttering with details, the practical evidence that our minds work this way is a 2012 study by Google and the University of Basel, titled: "The Role of Visual Complexity and Prototype in Relation to the First Impression of Websites". The researchers found that users will judge how well a site's appearance can achieve aesthetic standards in 1/20 – 1/50th of a second, so make very fast judgments on something as complex as a website. This great speed of judgment may make our judgments instinctive or emotional rather than judgments based on mental or logical calculations. (11) This is what makes you look at something that costs a lot of time and effort to design and describe it as "simple", not only in form, but in workmanship as well.
During his lecture, George Whitesides quotes the French writer de Saint-Exupéry: "The way you can be sure that you have achieved perfection in design is not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have no more to get rid of." What appears simple to your eyes is actually something that takes a lot of effort and time to reach the stage of "design perfection".
Whitesides adds that the point of difference here between the maker of something and its future is that the maker puts a great deal of effort and time into making something that the beholder finds "simple," which is the point that distinguishes the real world of the people who make things, and the world of the people who receive these things. "Manufacturers take a lot of their effort and time to think about the answer to the question: What do we do to make things as simple, practical and useful as possible? If we make that kind of 'simplicity' in our technology and then give it to you guys, you can go ahead and do all sorts of cool things with it." It is clear from the above that simplicity is a powerful design tool, which takes a lot of time, effort and perhaps money to obtain.
The problem may not be that people don't like simplicity, but they really don't often afford it. (Shutterstock)
It's true that beauty comes with simplicity, but being able to show beauty through the use of toiletries and cosmetics with natural calm colors may not be "simple" at all. In fact, in a society obsessed with beauty, millions of dollars and hundreds of hours are spent in pursuit of impeccable looks. Many are attracted to buying cosmetics produced by international brands, which are often timeless, and even increasing in price day by day. (12)، (13).
Mainly, personal care products are divided into two main categories: one that includes hair and dental care products and various personal care products, and the other for cosmetics and perfumes. During the period from August 2021 to August 2022, the prices of the hair and teeth category increased by 7.6%, while the prices of the cosmetics and perfumes category increased by 4.2%. Beauty services have also become more expensive, with the cost of haircuts and other personal care services increasing by 4.4% compared to August 2021. (14)
Here the alternative for the middle and lower social classes may be the excessive use of poorly made and simple cosmetics, which may not have the same ability to highlight the beauty of the face and calm features, which tells us that the problem may not be that people do not like simplicity, but in fact they often do not have the cost.
1- Steve Jobs > Quotes
2- Queen Rania Releases New Video from Princess Iman's Wedding
3- Simplicity at the Center of It All
4- The simplicity principle in perception and cognition
5- The Power of Simplicity
6- Zen Style: where nature meets design
7- Zen Interior Design is the 2020 Trend
9- Princess Iman of Jordan Was a Radiant Bride in Dior and Chaumet for Her Royal Wedding
10- Toward a science of simplicity
11- The role of visual complexity and prototypicality regarding first impression of websites: Working towards understanding aesthetic judgments
12- Why Is Makeup So Expensive?
13- Beauty has a cost as retail prices rise at fastest rate in decade
14- Beauty Products Are the Most Expensive They’ve Been Since 2016