Simplicity is sophistication

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said the great artist Leonardo da Vinci, which was later appropriated by Steve Jobs as a design philosophy for his Apple computers. Does it not hold true for all aspects of life? Simplicity rules style everywhere. Excess is never a sign of sophistication.

In an age ruled by hype and glitter, a simply dressed man or woman with a touch of taste determine sartorial elegance rather than those overdressed  in expensive clothes. An elaborate wedding is a vulgar display of wealth where as a simpler event talks of taste. A single flower in a vase has more grace than a large bouquet, if only we can see it!

Simplicity of manner is an example of sophistication where you treat everyone with an even hand. Reserving all niceness for those who matter and treating others dismissively is not sophistication. Politeness that is reduced to obsequiousness embarrasses one.

A Japanese proverb says “Excessive courtesy is discourtesy.” In short, it is just being yourself. We are often struck by the simplicity of manner of those who can say much in a few words and not resort to verbiage. Much clarity is sacrificed and distortion takes place when we cannot or do not say what is actually meant.

The most effective speech is also the shortest. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech, known for it’s eloquence and precision, is all of 300 words. Paring down sentences and sentiments yields better results. Brevity, after all, is the soul of wit.

Even in the matter of food, elaborate meals tire the tongue and the taste buds  while fewer dishes deliciously turned out and beautifully dressed are something  to savour even in memory.

When we see architecture with clean straight lines, without the trappings of complicated design, the simplicity of the effect is uplifting. The architecture should be seen as neat and functional. Elegance is achieved when the superfluous is discarded and construction takes place  with free flowing spaces and interiors in harmony with environment.

Homes untroubled by excess furniture and uncluttered by artifacts with clear spaces and surfaces suggest a minimalism and a freedom and openness that can be refreshing. It is not in the multiplicity and confusion of things that beauty is achieved. Perhaps, a plant in a corner can bring in the sense of outdoors.

In fact, simple can be more difficult than complex, as only an uncluttered mind can think clearly. Therefore, reducing the complex to simple is a measure of creativity.

When Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher emperor of Rome said, “The effect of true philosophy is unaffected simplicity and modesty. Persuade me not to ostentation and vain glory”, he said it all.

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