Less is More stupid

Less is more.

Congratulations, you have officially alienated 75% of the population. Now if you can make Less cost more? You’ll knock out another 23%. The remaining 2% are married to an Architect. Clearly, your practice is off to a good start.

Reducing everything down to the purest, most elegant form is difficult, and only a truely gifted Architect can achieve that level of perfection, and that gifted Architect probably designed a glass house for a crazy lady in a robe, but she died, and now the house is a museum, and, yes, I just called Philip Johnson a crazy lady in a robe, and I think the facts will back me up on that.

Removing all the clutter, and the contradictions, and the character, and the color, and the messiness, and the struggle, and the inconsistency, and the uncertainty, and the imbalance, just to reveal an underlying structure, and an order, and a harmony, and a calm, centered peace…, is a disservice to our humanity.

Like replacing a beating heart with a thick block of glass.

But, Architects continue to strive for that perfection, and we continue to enlarge the divide between what we want and what is wanted, and I think we may have missed the point of what we were trying to do in the first place.

Yes, simplicity is a difficult goal, and clean lines are next to godliness, and purity photographs well. And, nobody cares. Because:

Life is complicated and Life is messy and Life is hard and Life is endlessly fascinating…

So, stop it.

Less is not more.

More is more.

J

.

photos are from hooverine’s photostream on flickr and were used under creative commons license, and I used one more than I needed.

Cite: Brown, Jody. "Less is More stupid" 15 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Nov 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=184672>
  • Adorno

    read this rant, then look at Jody’s “Large Infill Projects”.

    http://www.infillnc.com/large-infill/

    rationalization is a powerful defense mechanism…

  • David

    This site will not have real creditability as journalism or criticism as long as it publishes this kind of drivel.
    Does anyone actually edit this?

    • Andrew

      Oh dear. It’s spelt: credibility

  • http://mcgi.daportfolio.com Paco

    Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
    -Stan Smith.

    • Jorge

      if guns dont kill people, people kill people

      then toasters dont toast toast.

      toast toast toast.

      • moot

        …should read,
        “if ‘guns don’t kill people; people kill people’, then toasters don’t toast toast; toast toastS toast.”

        most particularly, don’t just copypaste; put the S where it’s supposed to be.

  • B_B

    “less is more” was a statement of that time, which was an arguement against the main architectural styles of that time (deco, nouveau ect). the statemen meant : “there are other things that we as humans need, we don´t need all the ornaments or decoration”…. Mies said that phrase almost 100 years ago, don´t compare then with now…. “less is more” for me is an attitude, don´t make it an architectural style

  • Pedro

    I’ve just about disagreed with everything you’ve posted here before, but I can’t blame you entirely. I think this is our view into your perception of architecture; a view that you’ve acquired from your environment and your experiences through your school and through the city you work in; through the work being produced by people around you. So for once, I’m glad to agree and to see that you’ve discovered an idea that is being discussed among the new generation of architects.
    But, more is more? Yes is more?
    Robert Venturi – “Less is a Bore”
    As my great professor said, there aren’t many rules in architecture, so don’t be afraid to break them.
    I think there is a difference between “Less” and “Simplicity”. Those are two different animals that and not the same, and require two discussions entirely. Less does not mean simplicity in a design, and More does not mean complicated either.

    • Pedro

      … In the end, any “rules” in architecture that limit designers, die. The great “rules” of architecture are the ones that free designers, such as “Less is a bore”. More is More is limiting a designer to only do more, and not have a choice to do less. ;)

  • Pete Olthoff

    The idea subjacent to this opinion article could, and should, be developped more thoroughly. This is the kind of thing that can be acceptable in oral speech but shouldn’t translate so directly to writing. ArchDaily really needs to have an editor that can bring these texts up to another level.

    • http://losawsm.tumblr.com/ CHRISTOPHER CORBETT

      Wow, Architects are such dicks. Except Pete. He’s a nerdy dick. You misspelled developed.

      • pete oldhofff

        NO, YOU misspelled developpped!
        the retroactive installation of the P triad is both timely and apppropriate, mr corbettt anti-nerd mickeystachioettte

      • pete oldhofff

        NO, YOU missspellled developpped!
        the retroactive endojection of the P triad is both timely and apppropriate, mr corbettt anti-nerd mickeystachioettte

  • Pete Olthoff

    The idea subjacent to this opinion article could, and should, be developped more thoroughly. This is the kind of thing that can be acceptable in oral speech but shouldn’t translate so directly to writing. ArchDaily really needs to have an editor that can bring these texts up to another level.

  • James

    More jody brown tripe – why is this person a contributor?

  • grump

    the end of the neo-modernist revival is at hand. it’s about time!

  • Georgi Bonchev

    I disagree with the author. In the eyes of the investor we have one goal – to make it work. Life is complicated, but life is also full of errors and wrongs. Do we need to apply them in our work? Nature, on the other hand, is simple and perfect. Everything is there for a reason.

    • john m

      nature is simple? I guess the simplicity is based on how closely you look.

    • Pedro

      The argument is against Less is More, and promoting the idea for More is More. What part of nature is “Less” or “More”? Nature can be perfect, but it does not equal neither “Less” or “More” or “simple”. Nature is complicated, but elegant.

  • Diego

    Life is SIMPLE!

    • john m

      I could accept that life / nature is ‘perfect’, but I cannot see life as simple. I think that is why minimalist architecture works so well sometimes, by contrasting the complexities.

      It seems that some here are overly critical on this guy’s writings. What highbrow discussions do you normally participate in?

    • fmH

      i agree.. life is simple… an as some ( Mandelbrot, May, Smale, York, Lorentz) pointed out “simple can produce very complex forms” nature isn’t perfect, it’s just as good as can be. may be not even that. stop thinking about architecture too much as physical form. it’s not a statue… it’s much more.
      less..
      more…
      what exactly are we counting??

  • am

    Jody,
    I keep on coming back to your rants as they show up in my reader after all.
    You’ve just about completely misunderstood Mies if this is your interpretation of his “less is more”.
    It was an attitude and not a way to stylize architecture. It was about creating livable spaces with the minimal amount of materials and no ornament. I have lived and worked in Mies (or Miesian) buildings, and they were just about the most inspiring spaces I have ever set foot in.
    So yes, let’s not be dogmatic, but before claiming to do a 180 on modern architecture, please make the intellectual effort to understand it. Otherwise, you’re either transcribing a late night drunken conversation or being intellectually dishonest.
    Archdaily editors – If you want to start publishing more theoretical and intellectual pieces, please seriously increase your editorial oversight…

  • Sam

    While I agree with the critiques of the article, the image of Philip Johnson as a crazy lady in a robe may just win out.

  • marco

    life can be simple.
    most people live a chaotic life though.
    one is bombarded by media, advertising etc.
    there’s an increasing need to keep things simple.
    to live in a more or complete minimalistic environment can actually help you to balance yourself.

  • Scott Turner

    Has Jody Brown actually studied any architectural discourse from the last one hundred years beyond the simplified tenets of modernism taught in Architecture 100? To me he speaks of architectural ambitions and processes that seem to be an imagined narrative of someone who has never participated in them.

  • rem

    you know i coined the phrase “more is more”……im just sayin

    • steve

      Actually, I coined the phrase “more is more” and so did many others as it is relative to its reference. In my case it was in reference to communication. Last time I checked I’ve not seen a copyright or tm next to this saying, so probably it’s fair game :-)

  • Antoine

    WOW! Paolo Coelho reoriented to architectural theory. And he posted many of these comments himself with different names, how lame. Frankly you should have stayed in your (highly acclaimed) philosophical practice Paolo, you’re no challenge for Alain de Botton.

  • Aaron

    I can’t believe I just read something funny on an architecture blog!

  • Walter

    Thank’s “am” . Very well said.

  • Ulisse

    Less is more , at my point of view, changed significance throughout the years….It used to mean simplicity and economy back in the ’60′s.
    Nowadays, less” doesn’t necessary mean simple or low cost…..take some SANAA works for instance. The phrase “Less is more” changed meaning in “expensive minimalism”.

  • Douglas Pek

    I disagree.

  • carras

    people toast toasts.

  • David B

    Jody, another great post, I look forward to many more. You know you are doing something right when the “academics” get all bent out if shape. Some architects take themselves way too seriously, a little humor and humanism would do them good.

  • Linx Arch

    I agree sometimes they make it too less and feels inhuman n cold. However, too much ornament and cosmetics looks is confusing too. Maybe it about finding the right boundary between the two? (easy to say than to do though)

    • nottoomore

      one of my faves; “make it too less” :) never ever change, linx

  • 2DI

    it’s just personal opinion, it’s could be write in private blog, not in architect blog as archdaily

  • the_Dude

    LESS = honesty in design as in, being using the right materials in the right places.

    How does nature work? A tree for example:
    Naturally a tree will grow in the location that best suits it.
    It will adapt and grow with its least required amount of energy.
    There is a solid trunk which gradually tappers into thin branches to make structural sense of gravity, and to maximise the amount of leaves it can carry. Leaves are of a material that suits its purpose…blah blah blah…
    It doesn’t look simple though, but it is honest!
    Calatrava is a minimalist, but he doesn’t use LESS…

  • carol

    I’m not get in on all of the arguments.

    I just wanted to thank you for my (surprisingly) laugh-out-loud moment when I read your Philip Johnson punchline. You’re so bad!

    Poor thing though…He really was a fascinating person.

  • BS

    To me its not about More or Less, Architects should attain a high level of technicalities and functionality while designing whether they are aiming for ultimate perfect image or not. I believe that simple doesn’t mean less and Mies’s Less isn’t our Less for sure.
    Harmony isn’t a simple thing to achieve and having less elements may help you to deal and manipulate a limited numbers of materials. From a personal point of view, I agree with Mies and I do believe that achieving harmony by coexistence and totality in design is far more interesting and challenging than detaching everything but the structure.

  • http://juliusjaaskelainen.wordpress.com Julius

    Complexity and contradiction FTW!

  • Victoria Kavanagh

    Expensive minimalism is exhilarating and sexy

    • nualabastardfeatures

      no, it’s just the money that’s sexy to you. minimalism is probably beyond your ken

    • dt

      Why is ArchDaily allowing such horrible commentary pollute it’s site? “Simplicity is a difficult goal… And nobody cares”? Sounds like you’re the disconnected one. Less IS more. Nobody likes clutter unless you’re a hoarder. Stop confusing ‘less is more’ with minimalism or as an extreme, and understand the concept before you criticize what is one of the most important design concepts in history. You are the problem with architecture.

      I will no longer subscribe to Archdaily.