The ultimate sophistication

The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri, April 2008

The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri, April 2008

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”Leonardo Da Vinci

Though I’ve confessed to my love of ornamentation, I also admire artists who can produce memorable works with clean lines and few details.  Often this type of art has to grow on me over time, as with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, commonly known as “The Wall.”  But sometimes, the simplicity of a design is so perfect as to command instant admiration.  The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is high on my list of such works.  It looks beautiful from any angle, striking from a distance and remarkable up close.

Simplicity of design or function is all around us, but is inherently easy to miss.  When I pay enough attention to notice it, I am usually inspired to work a little harder on my continual battle to de-clutter my life.  Whether it’s a building, a room, a functional object or someone’s outfit, simplicity can turn down the noise in my mind and increase my productivity by helping me focus.  I hope you will be able to enjoy and appreciate at least a few such designs today.


  1. The 36-hour mark, and my prayer becomes more simple. Your two simple words to Emily, “quite uneven”, are simply terrifying. “Peace, be still. . . “

    • Eric, Jeff is doing much better and we were just told that he would be able to leave the ICU today 🙂 and they have removed that uncomfortable and scary-looking tubing from his jugular vein, so he also looks much better; all is well for now. I got my first peek at his incision – YIKES! I would guess it is about 18 inches long, L-shaped, but healing very well. I didn’t count the staples. We will keep you posted.

      • Carolyn

        I just read your reply from yesterday. Why is Jeff in ICU? Did I miss a update on him? Pray all his treatments are going well. We just loss a friend, last night, to cancer. She had been fighting the big C for a little over 11 years. Jeff and I are going to be survivors. Here are a lot of hugs for you all.

        • Hi Carolyn, Jeff just had liver resection to remove his right liver (where the metastatic tumors were) after a portal vein embolization about 3 weeks ago. I thought you were on the email update list but I probably missed a few people. I’ll try to send you the updates via email, but won’t be able to get to it quite yet. YES you and Jeff will be survivors and we will all have to get together and celebrate in a few years from now! 🙂

      • Sherry

        Thank you.

        • You’re welcome! 🙂

  2. Sheila

    Julia, I have thought that Jeff has been so lucky, just in being a candidate for such a major surgical procedure. I feel the enthusiasm, the cautious optimism, and the love. All blessings truly do come from God. I continue to pray and feel so happy for y’all. Sheila

    • Thanks so much Sheila, the prayers are so crucial in situations like this. He is having some “bumps” in recovery (especially today) but I do feel all of the emotions you mentioned. His being a candidate for these procedures is definitely a blessing as the doctors did not seem to think he would be in the beginning. We feel very blessed. I appreciate your being here with us!

  3. Nancy

    The Arch is an amazing engineering feat! I got to confess though….I was quite glad to return to ground when we went up. Jan lives in St. Louis, Julia. We were at her mother’s funeral service today. Give love to Jeff for us.

    • Nancy, I had not heard Jan’s mother died, I am sorry to hear that. How are Jan and the family doing? Did you see Eloise (Kathy’s mother)? Keep the prayers coming for Jeff; they are a bit worried about him tonight and it’s hard not to get nervous, but he is being his usual stoic self which comforts me somewhat. I’ll try to update everyone on the email list with the details later.

  4. I lived in St. Louis a year (and on the Illinois side of the river for 3). My family went up in the arch. I preferred the view from the ground. It is awe-inspiring.

    • It really is something to see from the ground, isn’t it? I had no desire to go up inside (although I always went to the top of the WTC during the years it was standing). I guess I felt that the view FROM the arch would be less impressive than the view OF it! So your comment vindicates my decision! I loved the museum there, though, and thought it was very well done.

  5. When I am buying things for myself I look for the simplest yet lovely and convenient designs, esp in dress, footwear and bags. The complicated things may grab our attention initially but simplicity has a long-lasting charm.
    The structure against the blue sky looks beautiful.

    • Thank you Bindu, the arch really is stunning against the blue of the sky. I agree that simple designs are the most elegant and timeless. The older I get, the more I appreciate simple, comfortable clothing, especially shoes. I have always loved shoes but some of the designs I see now are so outlandish that they seem comical to me. Hope that you have a wonderful week!

  6. Great thought, to simplify. I’m always struggling with it. My design tastes lay somewhere in-between clean and simple to ‘the collected nest’ look. There’s a canadian designer named Sarah Richardson who’s style I really admire. She perfectly balances old with new, contemporary with collectable. I would love to hire her to do a home but oh so out of the budget.

    • Yes, decorators are expensive but here again we are lucky to have some gorgeous magazines and now Pinterest to inspire us. I think those of us who have many enthusiasms are constantly challenged to recognize the limits of what we can take in and appreciate; the possibilities are so endless that we tend to wind up with more to enjoy than can possibly be enjoyed in one lifetime! But it’s nice to have the problem of overabundance; it beats the alternative. Chosen simplicity is much more appealing than enforced simplicity, and some of the overly-spare modern looks remind me too much of the latter, with a cold and institutional feel. It’s a tough line to walk. I’ll have to check out Sarah Richardson; I’ve not heard of her.

      • Yes, as my husband would say “that’s a first world problem”. We’re so fortunate aren’t we.

        • Definitely, and I try not ever to forget it.


  1. True elegance | Defeat Despair

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