One plus one equals three or more

Sarven Capadisli
CC BY 4.0

I came across “1 + 1 = 3 or more” in Edward Tufte’s Envisioning Information. The following is my understanding and how it relates to some of the core concepts that I subscribe to in design.

Consider two parallel lines: =

There are two objects. A third object, the negative space, emerges in between.

Consider two crossing lines: +

There are two objects or different objects with varying lengths or shapes. The negative space may be four squares (or triangles) at the edges of the crossing lines.

Negative or empty space is everywhere; type design, relationship of objects, role of silence in music, empty space in architecture..

When I design interfaces or write code, I add objects when necessary until there is a (subjective) sense of balance.

We can also remove objects until the intended result is reached.

Different approaches. Addition, as opposed to subtraction, reflects our life. People tend to do things when necessary due to the restrictions imposed by the environment.

This approach tells me to stick to a general guideline:

  • Minimize cognitive load.
  • Add when required.
  • Structure should not compete with content.

Related concepts that might interest you:


1 interaction

karim amal’s photokarim amal replied on

En ce qui me concerne et jusqu'à lors il n'y a que deux nombres que je considère vrais : le zero et le un c'est à dire que la chose existe ou n'existe pas comme en éléctronique digitale mais je n'ai rien contre le nombre de spin.