Form and function: for better or worse

By Nic Price on 21 February 2005 — 1 min read

“Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”

Frank Lloyd Wright, US Architect, 1867-1959

Many everyday designs in use in the synthetic world are like moments of harmony during a turbulent but ultimately constructive relationship.

In between these moments you find form following function and function following form, and sometimes they’ll be battling it out between each other.

Here in the chaos it’s disturbing, disruptive and exciting. You can never quite be sure whether or when you’ll reach the next stage or what it’ll feel like when you get there. It’s where ideas and creativity happen.

In between the chaos are the zen-like places of simplicity where the noise has been reduced to silence, stepping off points in the development process, where you could remain forever, or rest for a while, contemplate, and then jump back on again towards the next level.

I’m not sure where the end-point in this journey towards simplicity is. I guess we might turn to nature for some answers.

The stability in Wright’s union of form and function can only ever be temporary.

Perhaps this is what makes us able to appreciate, understand and care about the beauty in the simplest design.

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