Simplicityforeword by John Maeda
Nowadays when you plough through the adverts in your mailbox or
turn on the TV to find something to watch, you can't help but
notice that there's, well, a lot to notice. If it's steak, there's
the flames. If it's financial advisors, there's the cash. If it's
medicine, there's the pill. If it's women, there's the eyes. If
it's men, there's the six-pack abs. If it's music, there's the
gorgeous woman or man, again. And if it's cars, there's the
gleaming chrome - which is the machine-equivalent to beguiling eyes
plus a six-pack.
Simplicity can be boring, as anyone knows from reaching for your
standard, boring toothbrush in the morning and swishing it around
in your mouth. There are of course more exciting toothbrushes that
play music that you can only hear through your jaw, and studious
electronic designs that can make you feel that you might have a
dentistry degree. But the classic toothbrush design suffices and
makes immediate sense. There is no on/off switch. It's either in
your mouth, or not. Which seems so obvious, but not to a toddler as
any parent knows. Only when we learn how to use something is when
it finally becomes simple - that can be said about the humble
toothbrush, or the wooden pencil, or the bar of soap. The list goes
on of all the objects we use in our environment that appear
absolutely simple, but that's because we struggled to learn how to
use them long ago as children. A car is the quintessential example
of how we mistakenly believe that "anyone can drive, it's simple"
only because we passed months of drivers ed and have forgotten that
it was once impossibly complex.
The basic form of an experience, once settled, is simplicity
itself. A keyboard and screen, a steering wheel and four tyres, a
frying pan and stove, or a volume knob and stereo speakers. A
computer needs to let you write a letter, a car needs to take you
places, a pan needs to make a decent omelette, or a radio needs to
rock the house. To find the true basis and fully own it in all of
its fundamental elegance is step one of getting a design right.
What is added on top of the core experience is where mastery occurs
- a metal handle that feels better each time you touch it, or a
patina that reveals itself with beauty as it ages. Or the design
can instead get lost in translation with additional unnecessary
elements that are attention deprived, decidedly garish, and always
in your face. Simplicity is striking a balance between what you
already know and what you don't have to know which begs an element
of trust when you invest in objects or experiences that purport the
ultimate in simplicity. Because great design for simplicity is what
you notice after years of living with it because the designer has
planned for you to want to keep it forever.
Simplicityby Ian Cameron and Helmut Riedl
"Simplicity in design embraces truth and integrity. These
attributes are at the heart of Ghost."
In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, people crave
simplicity. It is the holy grail of design and engineering. It
speaks to a deep-seated human need for things that are both natural
and intuitive; that draw you to them instinctively. Yet ironically,
achieving simplicity is never simple.
Single-mindedness is the root of simplicity.
When we began the Ghost project there was no confusion in the
design and engineering teams' minds about what they were going to
achieve. The result is a car that creates an instant connection -
you're compelled to look more closely. We call it the power of
From a visual standpoint Ghost expresses simplicity through the
natural balance and flow of its exterior surfaces. A surging line
catches your eye and you follow it, uninterrupted, to its
conclusion. It appears timeless, yet at the same time thoroughly
But the power of simplicity goes much deeper. There's no doubt
that Ghost is a hugely complex piece of engineering, but we don't
allow this complexity to come between the driver and the car.
We use technology to achieve simplicity, rather than add layer
upon layer of complexity, we make things as effortless as possible.
You just point the car in the direction you wish to go and press
the accelerator - it's as simple as that. Why should the driver
need to think about shifting through eight gears? Simplicity is
achieved by coupling the effortless power of the V12 engine with
the smoothest automatic transmission to deliver the sensation of an
infinite first gear.
Filtering which information the driver really needs at the
design stage makes driving Ghost simplicity itself. There is
nothing to distract you or complicate matters. You get 'true
information' through the controls and instruments. In particular
the steering is set to articulate different road conditions so you
react intuitively, creating an effortless and exhilarating
You'll find rev counters are a standard feature in most cars but
how useful is this information with an automatic gearbox? We
believe it's far more important to know how much power you have in
reserve. Is there enough to overtake a truck safely on a steep
hill? A quick glance at the Power Reserve dial lets you decide
Simplicity isn't confined to the driver experience. Passengers
are cocooned from the outside world by the simple expanses of
natural leather and wood. The chassis continuously adapts so you
are cosseted from the physical sensations of acceleration, braking
The hardest question comes when your design is finished: how do
you know you've achieved simplicity? It isn't a science and there
is no exact way to measure it. Ultimately it is intuitive - the
most rewarding thing is to see it in people's faces as they
interact with your creation. No explanation is required. Simplicity
attracts instinctively, it has a natural pull - just watch heads
turn as a Ghost drives down the street.
It is this universal appeal of truth and integrity in its
design, materials and engineering that makes Ghost a true
expression of the power of simplicity - one that we and the design
and engineering teams at Rolls-Royce are immensely proud of.