chapter  1
23 Pages

SIMPLICITY and COMPLEXITY

In 1958, Peter Blake-American architect, critic, educator, editor of Architectural Forum, and once-director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art-wrote that “the only trouble

with a simple little word like ‘simple’ is that so many people think it is synonymous with

‘easy.’ In real life, of course, ‘simple’ often means ‘difficult.’”1 Blake wrote about Le

Corbusier, Phillip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Ulrich Franzen, and other

proponents of Modernist architecture and minimalism. Most notably, however, it is in “The

Difficult Art of Simplicity” that Blake made the aforementioned statement and extensively

discussed the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Regarding Mies’s use of the structural

steel frame, Blake wrote, “Mies’s system of simplicity . . . is one of the most important

Mies, among the most renowned of minimalist architects, did not coin the phrase

“Less is more.” He did, however, help make it the slogan for a generation of architects.