Form Follows Function

‘Form follows function’ is a principle associated with modern architecture and industrial design in the 20th Century. The architect Louis Sullivan created the maxim while figuring out principles for the construction of skyscrapers.

Form follows function, as Sullivan defined it, states that the shape of a building or object should be predicated by or based upon its intended function or purpose. With buildings, that means/meant that there is a relationship to the human beings inside, the earth, the sky, and the surrounding air. I think certain applications exist toward the creation of dances. According to Sullivan:

“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
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.”

Sullivan was the teacher of another famous architect – Frank Lloyd Wright. The statement above comes from “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered”,” published in Lippincott’s Magazine (March 1896). You can see the entire article here.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.

One thought on “Form Follows Function”

  1. That principle carries over to education, too … one of the foundations of universal design of a classroom is that everything — desks, student materials, subject centers — be appropriate to function & intuition. Thus says my first comment. Ever.

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