A list of key readings that inspired us and our approach

Antonello da Messina, St. Jerome in his study (1474-75)

A more detailed reference list, roughly organised as our courses and workshops on the Art of Simplicity

PART 1: The complexity of Experience

An Intro to Complexity Science and Effective Complexity

  • Gell-Mann, M. & Lloyd, S., 2003, ‘Effective Complexity’, Santa Fe Institute Working Paper 3, Santa Fe Institute, NM, USA.
  • Gell-Mann, M., 1994b, The Quark and the Jaguar. Adventures in the Simple and the Complex, Freeman and Co., New York.
  • Holland, J. H. (2014). Complexity: A very short introduction. OUP Oxford.
  • Johnson, S. (2002). Emergence: The connected lives of ants, brains, cities, and software. Simon and Schuster.
  • Kauffman, S., 2000, Investigations, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Mitchell, M. (2009). Complexity: A guided tour. Oxford University Press.

Complexity in art: multiplicity

  • Barthes, R. (1966), ‘An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative’, Communications, 8: 237-272. 
  • Calvino, I. (2016). Six memos for the next millennium. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Madden, M., 99 ways to tell a story: Exercises in style. New York, NY: Chamberlain Bros.
  • Queneau, R. (1983). Exercise in Style. Einaudi.
  • Page, S. E. (2010). Diversity and complexity. Princeton University Press.
  • Perec, G. (2010). An attempt at exhausting a place in Paris. Wakefield Press.

PART 2: How the mind deals with complexity

How we think

  • Damasio, A. R. (2006). Descartes’ error. Random House.
  • Gigerenzer, G. (2007). Gut feelings: The intelligence of the unconscious. Penguin.
  • Gladwell, M. (2006). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking.
  • Lehrer, J. (2008). Proust was a neuroscientist. HMH.
  • Lehrer, J. (2010). How we decide. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillan.
  • Pinker, S. (2003). How the mind works. Penguin UK.
  • Simon, H. A. (1996). The sciences of the artificial. MIT press.

Gestalt and Art

  • Arnheim, R. (1974). Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye / New Version. Berkeley, CA: Univ of California Press.
  • Arnheim, R. (1983). The power of the center: A study of composition in the visual arts. Berkeley, CA: Univ of California Press.
  • Gombrich, E. (2000). Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, Millennium Edition.
  • Koffka, K., 2013, Principles of Gestalt psychology, vol. 44, Routledge, London.
  • Wertheimer, M. & Riezler, K., 1944, ‘Gestalt theory’, Social Research, pp.78-99.

Neuroscience, Art, and aesthetic reasoning

  • Gompertz, W. (2015). Think Like an Artist:… and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life. Penguin UK.
  • Harari, Y. N. (2014). A brief history of humankind. Harper Perennial.
  • Kandel, E. R. (2016). Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures. New York, NY: Columbia Univ Press.
  • Livingstone, M., 2002, Vision and Art. The Biology of Seeing, HNA Inc., New York.
  • Ramachandran, V.S. (2012). The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co Inc.
  • Zeki, S. (2011). Splendors and miseries of the brain: Love, creativity, and the quest for human happiness. John Wiley & Sons.

On Aesthetic Pleasure

  • Berlyne. D. E. (1970). Novelty. complexity. and hedonic value. Perception & Psychophysics. 8(5). 279–286.
  • Dutton, D. (2009). The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, & Human Evolution. Oxford University Press.
  • Glynn, I. (2010). Elegance in science: the beauty of simplicity. Oxford University Press.

PART 3: Complexity in Design 

Complexity/simplicity in Design 

  • Coates, D. (2003). Watches tell more than time: Product design, information, and the quest for elegance. McGraw-Hill.
  • Currey, M. (Ed.). (2013). Daily rituals: How artists work. Knopf.
  • Maeda, J. (2006), The Laws of Simplicity. MIT Press.
  • MOMA (1952). Olivetti, Design in Industry. MOMA Bulletin, Vol. XX, No. 1, Fall 
  • Norman. D. A. (2004). Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. Basic Book.
  • May, M. E. (2010). In pursuit of elegance: Why the best ideas have something missing. Crown Business.
  • Norman. D. A. (2010). Living With Complexity. MIT Press.
  • Patrick, V. M. & Peracchio, L. A. (2010). Curating” the JCP special issue on aesthetics in consumer psychology: An introduction to the aesthetics issue. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 20(4).
  • Segall, K. (2012), Insanely Simple. Penguin. 

A few good books applying these ideas to management

  • Axelrod, R. M., Axelrod, R., & Cohen, M. D. (2001). Harnessing complexity. Basic books.
  • March, J.G., 2010. The ambiguities of experience. Cornell University Press.
  • Morieux, Y., & Tollman, P. (2014). Six simple rules: how to manage complexity without getting complicated. Harvard University Press.
  • Weick, K. E., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2001). Managing the unexpected. Jossey-Bass.
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