Thursday, December 8, 2011

Form follows ......... emotion

Form follows ......... function is a principle associated with modern architecture and industrial design in the 20th century. It was the late 19th century architect Louis H. Sullivan who coined this phrase “form (ever) follows function” in 1896 in his article The tall office building artistically considered. Sullivan developed the tall steel skyscraper in Chicago during this very time. His assistant Frank Lloyd Wright later adopted the same principle in a slightly different form.

Guggenheim Museum NY by Frank Lloyd Wright

This phrase became a battle-cry of Modernist Architects after 1930s which implied that all decorative elements (ornamental) were superfluous and the building design should be a direct reflection for the function it has been designed, making it simplistic and contemporary to look at. It is a belief very close to “Less is more” and which sheds all elements used for ornamentation of elements.

Nearly a century later Hartmut Esslinger (a German-American industrial designer) on the lines of this famous maxim re-coined it into his design principle “form follows emotion”. Esslinger is known for his ground-breaking designs from Apple, Lufthansa Airlines, Siemens, Motorola and many more. Speaking from a context of product design he says, “brand position is what counts, and brand goes back to the emotional content of products”. The future is in personalization and we as designers get hints on this every day.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry’s design for Guggenheim museum in Bilbao is a perfect example of form following an individual’s emotion. Every owner or an architect has an emotional connect with its building, so it is natural for a building to be a confluence of the emotions of the architect and owners.

Ultimately a building does reflect the personal taste of the owner and the designer.

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