"Less is more"one of the most iconic phrases coined by one of modern architecture's forefathers, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. I have to admit that until recently I sort of got this phrase. I even use it quite a bit. Yes it means less ornate type of things, a striped down version of a window trim, purity of line, light and space. In short it means very stark places where one feels they can't really move anything around, less they want to upset the meticulous balance achieved.
I was fortunate to study, and live in one the worlds' most thriving Bauhaus cities in the world, Tel-Aviv. For years I got to examine and absorb the pure lines, cantilevered balconies, bare no frills entryways. To be honest at first I thought it the most ugly city in the world. It felt bleak, uninviting, and unlike cities in Europe there wasn't until about 15 years ago, any urban policy of preservation set in place. Though many will argue not enough is being done to salvage these buildings, enough are considered historic and have undergone extensive renovations. The city has been beautified with these gems.
Then I moved to America and was struck by the amount of trim, the endless array of baseboard finishes, not to mention the ever terrifying crown molding, and don't even get me started on chair rails. I was intimidated by all these things added on to spaces, only to learn these are perfect for hiding construction imperfections. You see, you can't hide behind clean lines - they have to be perfect plum, and aligned, they require a different set of skills.
Which brings me to the small revelation I had last week. Nowadays I don't really walk into stores, aside from the online options, I get tired and disoriented by the sound, light, clutter, abundance of options. But last week I had too, the screen of my phone cracked, and had to be replaced. I walked into a slick, clean, striped down space, adorned with some monochromatic images - very modern stark looking place. A space where I knew exactly who to talk to, easily navigate through the space, no bells and whistles. A place that as I was walking into, I was immediately seen and greeted. It was a space where when the person that helped me smiled at me, I actually saw the smile, and could hear what was been said to me clearly. The space lent it self to human interaction like no other commercial space I have been to lately. And if I'm honest, it caught me by surprise. That moment made me deeply understand the meaning of less is more, and how human centric that saying is. How ingenious it is to clear the visual clutter (just the view of a news room on TV sets me into hyperactive aggressive mode), and allow for the person in that space to be able to see, hear and in return be seen and heard. I have a feeling that there is a reason why of this kind of store can succeed for many years, because it's not only the buyer feeling clarity in the space, but also the people who work there. We need to think together how we can cleanse the visual clutter around us, I think it will allow us to see each other better.