Designing Simplicity

Design in its best sense means analyzing a problem and seeking the best solution. In order for more people to share in the joy of shaping the things they use, designs need simplifying in all fields. There is greater beauty in simpler forms and greater efficiency in saving materials, time, and energy.

The important role of design in education has so often been ignored. Likewise, for too long the crafts have had an aura of the unattainable. This appears to function as a sort of psychological protective tariff for the members of an exclusive club. Frequently, emphasis is put on the most difficult designs rather than the simplest. This is another example of a wasteful approach to life, preserving an aristocracy of the initiated and treating talent as something you either have or don’t have. 


But talent is continuum. Everyone has some talent, large or small. For me, an important measure of a civilization’s success is how fully it develops the talents of all its people. We need this development both for an individual’s own sake and for the enrichment of society at large. The pool of talent is one of our world’s richest resources. 

A design goal of mine has been to create forms that the least skilled and least confident could make successfully – beautiful, simple, and useful designs, truly democratic designs that will invite people to use their hands.  

– William Coperthwaite, A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity


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