We love “more.” More assets, more money, more friends and more “likes” are all good because they bring us happiness. But despite our long-standing, determined loyalty for “more,” the notion of “less is more” emerged during crucial societal turbulence in history; around the First and Second World Wars as a modern design philosophy; as transcendental Japanese aesthetics when the society was on a drastic transformation from the Middle Ages to modern era. And if you hadn’t noticed, it’s trending today, not just in the world of design, but also as a lifestyle choice, such as the minimalist, decluttering or tiny house movements.
And if you look at the timing carefully, the “less is more” concept surfaced when society was at the pinnacle of euphoric economic growth. Why on earth did people have to seek “less” when “more” looked to be strong and prevailing? Does it mean that too much “more” can become toxic? Can it turn into “less” if something goes wrong? Most importantly, is “less is more” telling us something important; that we are feeling uncertain, frustrated and divided, instead of feeling jubilant and triumphant, despite living in the most affluent world in history?
If you are having trouble wrapping your head around the imbalance between today’s “robust economy” and social divisions and uncertainties, and also are looking for reliable clues in order to lead a fulfilling, happy life in this rapidly changing world saturated with materials and opportunities, and also with intense emotions and challenges, it’s time to revisit “less is more.” We have been there before, witnessing what we are going through today. Act as if we were living in 1928, and re-discover the true potential of “less is more.”