John Maeda

John Maeda

John Maeda is a popular contemporary American graphic designer of Japanese origin. Besides he is also a renowned author, computer scientist and academic scholar. The Laws of Simplicity is considered to be a landmark in graphic designing. In his work he explored design, technology and leadership and pinpointed the area where they all come together.

John Maeda was born in 1966 and raised in Seattle, Washington. His father was an owner of a tofu factory and had a great devotion toward craftsmanship. As Maeda grew up and honed his own handcraft skills, he recognized its value. He helped out his father in the factory by managing small business paperwork on computer. This step propelled him in the direction of exploring the field of computer science. Maeda enrolled himself at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied electrical engineering and computer science. It was during that period that he found himself enthralled by the work of Muriel Cooper and Paul Rand. At that time, Cooper served as the director of Visual Language Workshop at MIT. Upon completion of the courses Maeda received Master degree in both disciplines.

Afterwards, he moved to Japan where he pursued a degree in completely different discipline that is art and design. He attended the University of Tsukuba Institute and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Design Science. According to him, the learning experience enabled him to rediscover three things; mind, paper and pen. In the mid-1990s, he returned to MIT to establish the Aesthetics and Computation Group (ACG). The research studio was dedicated to unite an array of interests, including engineering, art, computation, thinking and craft. ACG was founded with the intention of investigating these areas in his own work and also to make advancement in the field so much so that it helps him build it as an independent field. A set of key concepts developed by ACG were outlined in short videos. Maeda’s first video, titled “Elements of Reactive Form”, discussed the power and effectiveness of form that he previously addressed in his essay ‘Reactive Graphics’ published in MdN Magazine.

Early in his professional career, Maeda produced groundbreaking work that altogether altered the fundamental landscape of design. His work redefined the use of electronic media as an instrument of expression by juxtaposing artistic techniques with advanced computer programmes. It would not be wrong to hold him responsible for laying the groundwork for the interactive motion graphics without which today’s virtual world would seem lifeless. In addition to being an exceptional designer, artist and educator, he also contributed to art through his writing. He penned down several pieces for a variety of magazines from time to time. In 2009, he made an assessment of Apple’s design principles in Huffington Post. His other highly recognized works include Creative Code: Aesthetics + Computation and The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life. The latter also demonstrates the influence of Paul Rand on Maeda’s work. The book discusses the necessity of simplicity and offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology and design.

Moreover, a retrospective of his work was held in London, Paris and New York. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has his artwork stored in its permanent collection. Maeda strongly believes in the potential of art and design as he predicts that it will transform the 21st century economy like science and technology did in the last century. John Maeda is now a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers after staying the President of the Rhode Island School of Design for five years.

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