Perfection may be achieved when there is nothing left to take away. Michelangelo saw David through the block of marble and he simple chopped away the stone that was not David. The Japanese word shibumi is used to describe refined simplicity, beauty, elegance, and quiet perfection. Shibumi looks simple but it takes time and effort to reach this state – understated effortless beauty.
Many parents try to trick their children by giving their children five pencils instead of one package. We can cut a sandwich in four pieces and somehow it seems more to eat than one sandwich. In a similar way, architects can create ‘more’ space by diving the room into discrete areas. This can be down by lowering the ceiling height in two places. This creates the perception of three separate and distinct areas.
It may not be difficult to make simple cuts and take things away – such as cutting the costs. Yet it is a skill to see the missing pieces and to consider what can be achieved by stopping to add things. Reflecting over what you can stop adding, take away to stop doing is not as easy as it may sound. Streamlining the thinking and challenging yourself to end doing things that are not necessary may in the end achieve a higher end result.
Complicating things is easy, it is also easy to avoid reading, and exploring things that we consider complicated. Research in a subject such as biology is often empirical but there is naturally on underlying theoretical work that is used to generate predictions. Despite this, the theoretical framework is often ignored. Papers using a higher density of equations are often not cited. Putting the equations in the appendix instead of in the paper makes it ‘easier’ to read and the number of papers citing the paper increases. A simple taking away, of the equations increases the chances that the paper will be read and cited.
Photo: “Abstract Empty Room” by sumetho