Formal Expression

Most, if not all, of us have heard the expression “form follows function”.  This phrase, supposedly first coined by 19th century American sculptor Horatia Greenough, has been the subject of much debate regarding most everything that requires some design process.  Oddly enough, what we consider to be function-influenced formal expressions are not entirely evident in Horatio’s own work.

In 1896, however, an American architect by the name of Louis Sullivan (who would become an iconic American architect) expressed in his article entitled “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered” that “…form ever follows function”. 
Arguably, this mantra is the single most influential idea considered to influence designers to this day!  Again, though, some would argue even Sullivan’s architecture did not truly express his ideology. 

This is the crux of the problem as design, in and of itself, is purely subjective, and based on the viewpoint of it’s observer, could be classified as “purely functional” (as are many machinery designs), or “purely ornamental” (swans atop Dolphin and Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World, designed by Michael Graves), or perhaps a combination of the two.  It is however, in my opinion as a designer, inescapable that form is in fact an expression.  Whether ornamental or pragmatic, a decision about form is made, in some way, by us, as human beings, regardless of how you would classify it. 
It is this expression of form, in design, which we will explore with this blog, in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. We will strive to offer some compelling commentary on examples submitted, while hopefully providing you with lots of “eye candy” to support our views (because, let’s face it, most of us are visually stimulated, anyway, and may never actually read any of this).  With that said, welcome, to the Somod design blog!
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