"Simple Isn't Easy"

"Simple Isn't Easy"

How a Stranger Helped To Define My Brand


At a pop up market in San Francisco last holiday season, a woman came up to my table to peruse my jewlery pieces. We were chatting and she gave me very kind feedback, telling me she liked my work and that she could tell I had a design/architecture background. 

We chatted for awhile longer as she looked over my display, and then she said, as she was walking away, "You’ve achieved with your work something that my dad always said: “Simple isn’t easy.”" And then she left to go visit the next artisan booth at the show. 

After she left, I kept thinking about and repeating her words (well, her dad’s words): Simple isn’t easy. 

I felt like she described what I am continually trying to achieve with my designs and my overall brand: something simple, something thoughtfully designed, something without much fuss.


Perhaps her father was quoting the words of iconic jazz musician Thelonius Monk, who said “Simple ain’t easy.” Monk was talking about music that is simple in its structure but so beautiful that it haunts the listener after hearing it. 

Said another way, the quote is “Simple is hard.”

When we strip a medium down to its most basic parts, we reveal the very core of what it is about. And often times that can be ugly and complicated unless we are master's of our work, ie: we know what the hell we are doing. 


These three simple words could apply to almost anything: fashion, interior design, architecture, food, art.

In any of the above mediums, we sometimes struggle to reach the best/easiest solution because it's not a simple path to that solution. It's easier to just throw extra information, parts, flavors, or colors into the mix, because why not? Why limit ourselves?

When there are extra or distracting measures at play, it’s harder to scrutinize the overall composition of the work, because where do we start? How often do we add more than we need because we don't know when to limit ourselves?

When you work in a more limited palette, it's harder to achieve beautiful results. Simple ain't easy.


Back to jewlery design. What I’m often hoping to accomplish is simplicity, but in an elevated way that works: simple AND easy. And that’s hard to do because I limit myself to basic forms. I don’t use stones in my work. I like to let the metal do the work. It's just the form, and surface reflections, the way it interacts against your body.

I want to be thoughtful about the use of the word simple here, as it's sometimes read as a negative term. Simple as in "plain or basic" is different than simple as "easily understood." I want my pieces to be simple to wear, simple to own, simple to picture on yourself. Jewelry that simply works. It goes with anything you are wearing. 

If you'd like, think about the words “simple isn't easy” as it applies to everyday life and work. Can we achieve more simplicity if we work harder at it, breaking things down to the essence of what is needed and what is, simply, not?

Maybe it's getting to a more direct point in the way we talk to each other. It's sometimes hard to say the direct, simple things we need, either in relationships or work. But the clearer we are, the easier we should live, right?

Maybe it's eliminating the extras in our life that are crowding or cluttering our view of what we are working towards. 

Maybe it's considering what you consume that feels simple. 

What comes to your mind that could be simplified in your life?


If you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope that my words and ideas continue to carry through in my work and my pieces. Some are more successful in this than others. Simple isn't easy, but we are always striving towards it, right?


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