Keep It Simple, Stupid!

At the beginning of this month, IKEA released their new 2015 IKEA Catalogue and seized the opportunity to poke fun at another global brand with a highly anticipated product release later in the month. Let’s visit how their product release shouted: “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”


Although we hope Apple didn’t take it too hard, we had a good laugh around the office. But it also got us thinking about keeping things simple. “Keep it simple, stupid,” or the KISS Principle, is a design concept that states systems perform better when they have simple, not complex designs. The principle is attributed to Kelly Johnson, an aeronautical engineer in the mid-1900s who built his career on designing aircrafts that could be repaired with the tools and skills of an average mechanic.


Many assume that the KISS principle implies stupidity because of the “stupid” at the end but that’s incorrect, in the design context at least. KISS is often used to explain intelligent systems that may be perceived as stupid, or not as high tech, due to their simplistic design. Take Kelly Johnson, he could have designed highly complex aircrafts that only skilled aircraft mechanics could repair. However, he chose not to because he knew if one of the aircrafts he designed broke down in the field it was very unlikely there would be speciality tools and a highly skilled aircraft mechanic available to fix it. His simple designs did not make him any less of an accomplished engineer, on the contrary, they earned him the reputation of being one of the most talented and prolific aircraft designers in the history of aviation.


Historically, both IKEA and Apple strive for simplicity in the design of their products which is most likely why they are both successful on a global scale. Except for IKEA the secret might just be those little meatballs. So would it have been simpler for IKEA to quietly release their 2015 Catalogue like they do every year? Of course. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as funny. We’d like to think that IKEA was just softly teasing a fellow like minded brand and reminding their consumers to “keep it simple stupid.” And of course, pick up a “bookbook”.