Less is more version of the above: Caution – off topic discussion follows.
Maybe that’s just a less is less version.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is given credit for coining the phrase “less is more,” but apparently he borrowed it from 19th century British poet Robert Browning. Browning’s poem admires the idea, though Browning himself makes no claim to embody it in his work.
Who strive - you don't know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) - so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.
Mies (anyone who has studied architecture is on a first name, or first surname basis with him), on the other hand, uses the phrase as a philosophical justification for everything he does, whether or not he really achieves it in a given work. My view is that he began with a bang. The Barcelona Pavilion uses simple planes of a few materials to produce suggestions of spaces and relationships between them that are interesting and rich – certainly more complex than the elements that define them. Pretty cool!
There is some nice clean detailing here in the Seagram Building, but I don’t see the “more” part.
And then there is this, Crown Hall at IIT in Chicago, supposedly one of Mies’ crowning achievements.
This is an interior view.
Seems like a clear expression of less is less.
Then along came Robert Venturi who wrote a book entitled Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. It was the beginning of post-modernism. He declared that architecture is inherently complex …and contradictory and coined his own aphorism that so aptly describes the above picture:
“Less is a BORE.”
And so, architecture has gone in a different direction.
I now ask myself, “What is the point of this little digression?” I think Tillerman just hit my anti – Mies nerve – an old architecture school malady. He is one of the three Gods of twentieth century architecture, but I could never worship at his altar. To me, his work (except for the earliest work) is a stronger representation of industrialization, mechanization, standardization, and a bunch of other ………tions than it is of an artistic or Zen-like spirit of minimalism. The industrialized version of “less is more” isn’t working out so well on many fronts, yet Mies usually gets his name mentioned when we want us to consider a much more sublime concept.