612. Form Follows Function Follows…

The Guggenheim—A Design Idea Put Into Practice

Form Follows Function—a simple idea really. When done well… it makes sense. When taken to the absurd extreme, it makes this couch…

… or better yet this table…

…or even better yet, in nature, this armored but furry and cute and ugly, pink fairy armadillo…

The Pink Fairy of Argentina
More Pink Faries

…this isn’t photoshopped peoplez, it’s an actual animal living in South America. Absurd, yes? But what’s the function of the Pink Fairy… Armadillo? Well it doesn’t want to get eaten by birds from above. So it has this semi-armored plate on top that blends in with the pinkish hue of the sand, can burrow to escape the heat and predators, and has fur to keep it warm on cool desert nights in the higher altitudes of Argentina. Nature is pretty smart yes? Form follows function. Start first with the question, “What function are you trying to achieve?”… then you can let the artistic designers go wild creating art around that function. Hats off to one of the weirder penis-looking creatures on the planet. Form Follows Function.

I first heard this concept doing a corporate web refresh… thinking about, “what are we trying to get the website to do?,” first. Then the ad/marketing agency in Dallas, The Point Group, came up with the design. A very smart web design director, named Apollo, I’m sure used the concept, Form Follows Function. Then the IT Director, Jeremy Wenneker, who had risen up through the ranks from a IT Help Desk technician, told me… form follows function. That has stuck with me ever since.

Bauhaus Cool

So the history of this concept can be traced back to an architect in the late 1800’s, to this dude Louis Sullivan. Here’s some bullshit he said:

Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.

Form
Function

It’s also somehow tied to the Bauhaus movement from Germany. When I think of Bauhaus, I think of minimalist modern design, clean… but kinda boring and antiseptic.

Bauhaus Political??

There’s some corollaries to this concept, that Art, instead follows passion… and then when you mix religion in, there’s the concept of God to think about. Something about Nietzsche saying that when God is dead, Art becomes the God. Sounds like a bunch of hoohie to me, but still…

Art Follows Passion
The Video

So what to make of this and how to apply it to everyday life? Start with the questions… “What are you trying to do?, What are you trying to accomplish?” first. Then get all creative making that come about. Think long & hard about what you want your life to be about and only then go about doing it. Sounds simple right? Harder to accomplish. But to live a full life, we must try. And then there’s Yoda… “There is no try, only do!” Well doo doo!!! Sounds like a lot of work. Just Do It! —Nike, a brand who is no longer very functional, for runners at least.

Form follows function. Good? Good still.

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