Personally, the phrase ‘ less is more’ is a mantra for a particular lifestyle that reflects the simplicity of action, deed and thought. It represents the human need to find value, solace and community by peeling back ‘the onion layers’ of jargon that often impedes genuine relationships. Finding the simple thread that binds us together is far more powerful than accumulating ‘ friendships’ on social media.

Likewise, behind all universal concepts, however complex, is a simple theory/ idea that drives the imagination and creative thought process; complexity often hides the nugget of truth that lay behind ones accomplishments. The success of any discipline is dependent upon enunciating its purpose in clear simple language.

Environmentally, this phrase speaks to our consumer appetite and the ever present need to purchase things for personal enjoyment as if the more we accumulate, the more we will thrive. However, why do we spend over half of our lives buying items and the rest of our lives trying to rid ourselves of the very objects we amassed? Simply put, sometimes ‘ more’ offers us ‘ less’ time and space to rediscover who we are and where are we going. Jane Goodall long ago gave up her possessions to free herself from distractions to live a ‘ more fuller’ life. I am not suggesting that we all adopt this approach to life but we should all re examine how might balance the equation so that ‘ less’ leads us all to a more meaningful and rewarding existence on this planet.

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Has there been any discussion about how "less is more" is not so much about a minimalism aesthetic, or about presenting things as their component parts and fully valuing what makes up the core of something (a building, a daily practice, an object) and is likely a way to mask capitalism and the process of production?

Follow me for a moment...

If we consider "less is more" we're able to create more by using less. We we remove all of the unnecessary from something, it provides us more resources over all to generate more of the same.

The process of Japanese production, in my understanding, follows the principles known as "lean." At the very basic elements, this is all about "less is more."

Remove the unnecessary.

Do more.

Do quicker.


Perhaps it is not about valuing and appreciating something for what it truly is. Perhaps it's all about being more efficient, producing more, and making more money.

It's a half formed thought if nothing else.

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I was thinking about this for a while and realised that "less is more" has a couple of meanings for me.

Firstly, less is more is somewhat primal for me, an allusion to self and non-self. Have less be more, not necessarily in a minimalist sense but by not weighing yourself down with things you don't need. I understand the fascination for Marie Kondo's work — dispose of things that don't bring you joy — but I feel it goes beyond that. I just can't really express it beyond some kind of gut instinct. Rely less on the external so as to be more natural and individual. By all means seek inspiration from outside but don't let it overly and artificially influence you on the inside.

There is also the paradox of choice which I don't really need to go in to here.

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I'm going to do a thing that I'm not super good at and just write fast without filtering because I want to think of this reply like a reply in a pub. That isn't some way of evading accountability for what I write, but it is my way of working through the gap between my mind and my typing that sometimes causes me to close the tab before I reply and participate. *Exhales* — I'm ready.

To me, this morning, looking out the window in Newfoundland, "less is more" feels like anxiety. The "sense in his mind that he had contributed virtually nothing to the design of the facade, even though he was carrying the draft of the design in his hands" reminds me of how I feel when I've worked as a consultant. I'm sitting in a room, usually with an older nonprofit executive and thinking, "the answer here is to pause, to step back, to take a breath, to maybe do nothing." That hardly feels like advice that they can take. After all, they're paying me to help them do something. What if the something that they do is nothing?

That's a bit tongue-in-cheek, because it also feels like the "less is more" history that you sketch is beautiful. I see, in the retelling, that letting a thing be a thing, or an idea be an idea, without more artifice than necessary, conveys an honesty and humility that seems like a step in some sort of positive direction. Like, if we just stopped adding, and grew comfortable (or uncomfortable) with the structure, we might not need obscuring layers (or might change the underlying structure). Or, perhaps, in the interest of not judging layers too much, we might appreciate the significance of the layers and what they signify.

So, what is "less is more," I think I like it as a principle. In the interest of being half-baked, I wonder what it would look like to imagine public policy or legal process or rules or...other serious sounding things, with the principle of "less is more" in mind?

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