Traditional Architecture

Simplicity vs. Simpleness in Architecture — and Why You Should Care

Leonardo da Vinci once said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Simplicity in style calms us somehow inspires us, not only in architecture but also in other forms of design. Apple, as an instance, has refined its products on the years into such a gorgeous simplicity that the goods are very collectibles based on their style.

However, what does simplicity mean? Or even better, what does simplicity not imply? Simplicity is not to be confused with simpleness. I am not advocating for nursery rhymes over symphonies, “Sing a Song of Sixpence” over Beethoven’s Ninth. No, simplicity is rather different from simpleness.

Simplicity is effortless composition, an orderliness with lyrical attributes — such as in a great painting that has just enough brushstrokes to convey the idea, in which the painter uses just the ideal amount of color, which makes it impossible to envision another stroke or another color without destroying the composition. Great design, whether in architecture or paintings, shares this quality.

Let us explore the characteristics of lovely architecture with simplicity, an essential ingredient to beautiful design.

Georgia O’Keefe once said in regard to painting, “Fill a room in a gorgeous way.” Continuing that believing, architecture should enclose a place in a gorgeous way.

Often design is shaped by intersecting geometries, but seldom are the geometries orchestrated in this lyrical manner as both gently sloping roofs of this home.

Eggleston Farkas Architects

Many times simplicity begins with a singular geometry, 1 form surrounding space in a gorgeous way. This cabin not only uses a very simple geometry, but also avoids the error of using too many substances that much of contemporary architecture makes. The architect claimed simplicity by using just the materials needed, allowing the geometry to speak for the architecture.

Jeff Green Photography

An iconic image, this is the Sheats-Goldstein house by John Lautner.

The very definition of simplicity lies in this space. It is merely a floor, a glass and roof — nothing extraneous, no add-ons, no decorations. Here view and architecture marry and live happily ever after.

The Philip Johnson Glass House

Jonathan Ive, brilliant designer of the Apple iPhone, among other goods, once said, “Eliminate anything that is not absolutely crucial.”

Phillip Johnson’s Glass House certainly does exactly that. This iconic house has mostly been photographed from the outside, which I think is missing the point.

John Hill

The best thing about this residence is the simple unobstructed connection to the surrounding environment and also the continual consciousness of nature’s many moods, which can be experienced from the interior.

Contemporary home architects

Simplicity is not just orchestrated through simple geometry as illustrated in the previous pictures. The architect of this home made to express the structural elements instead of conceal them inside the walls and ceilings. The result is a gorgeous rhythmic quality. Repetition using a very simple expression of substances creates the structure’s simplicity.

Griffin Enright Architects

A well-tempered, uncluttered interior space creates a stage for consideration and creativity. Here novels are the wall art, as is the large window overlooking a wonderful old tree. A minimalist fireplace relaxes the space. An individual could almost overlook the gorgeous wood flooring.

Each of these separate elements are woven to a successful and simple essay made for contemplation.

John Maniscalco Architecture

The previous space was designed for contemplation, but this little nook was created for grilling. Clean, simple, nothing necessary to enhance the space. Simply a bathtub with a view and a architect wise enough to maximize the experience of both.

Bianchi Design

Stunning architecture is not restricted to the indoors, but should extend to outside living spaces, too, finishing the thought and making a holistic design.

The beauty of this outdoor area is located in its simplicity: a simple, clean border and geometry together with a rhythm of concrete bowls and bold-color furniture.

Bianchi Design

This water feature is a study in minimalism — just the brushstrokes needed, nothing longer. A rusty metal border, simple geometry and landscape stones compose this lyrical complement into the pool in the previous image.

Simplicity should not be confused with simpleness. Simplicity requires considerable thought and energy. It’s not easy to make something appear effortless, orderly and lyrical. The composition must be just right: just the ideal quantity of color, just the ideal amount of material and just enough of these elements to enclose the distance in a gorgeous way.

What are some of your favorite projects that share this quality? Share your thoughts below.

More: Have It Your Way : What Makes Architecture Successful

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