Design down, making more with less

In the continuing series of blog posts concerning detail driven decision-making. I read the book, In Pursuit of Elegance – Why the Best Ideas have Something Missing by Matthew E. May. It is a short little book with some great examples of design that saves time and money.

A few of the neat designs he discusses include:

A refrigeration system using clay pots that costs about 2$ to make and allows rural Africans to store food safely. The design is extremely simple, you place one clay pot inside the other and fill the gab with wet sand. As the water evaporates, the interior pot cools, very basic thermodynamics. More info on Wikipedia

Another neat design is small houses that feel big. Sara Susanka is the author of The Not so Vig House: A blueprint for the way we really live. Her architectural approach focuses on using all the space in a house, as opposed to wasting it on a fancy sitting room and dining room you use twice a year. By reducing the unused space and properly designing the rest, you can build a 2000 square foot house that feels like a 3500 foot home.

The book also discusses Lance Armstrong’s training methods, fractal geometry and Eat-N-Go burger joints (that have 4 things on the menu). All of these examples tie back to a concept of removing as much as possible from a design until there is nothing left to remove. Basically, Matt May tangibly demonstrates how to apply Occam’s Razor, which states, “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity” (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem)”

Published on July 19, 2010