An Argument for Transparency


After making a fairly complex Argument for Simplicity I’m faced with the task of devising a corollary. That is, either clarifying what I mean by simplicity in design, or attempting to make an inverse point, a simple argument for complexity. The latter seems a little facile, bordering on absurd, so I’ll attempt the former.

Simplicity in design is most robust when there is transparency between a thing and the idea behind the thing. In my observations, this occurs when a thing is introduced that represents a new idea, one that is capable of standing up to the test of time (the idea). The idea remains about the same but the thing is allowed to evolve through an iterative process that takes advantage of changes related to its manufacture, distribution, use, etc. The thing, as a stand-in for an idea, becomes indispensable.

Interestingly, the best examples I can think of that support this conjecture are products of leisure, with origins in mobility or transportation- boat hulls, bicycles, skis, surfboards, even frisbees and other flying discs. While ‘classics’ occasionally emerge from these types of things, demarcating a congruence between a thing and the conditions defining a particular time and place, their eventual obsolescence results from improvements in the same conditions- material, , technology, distribution, cost, performance, etc..