Form follows function – the central tenant of modern architecture – is an idea most often employed to justify cheap, ruthlessly efficient factories and office buildings. But for everyday living, it’s too rigid. A kitchen should be suitable for cooking, sure, but can’t the space also reflect the more complex, less rational things that happen within: family gatherings, romance, heartbreak? Does a clinical, all-white, ruthlessly organized space really suit?
Instead, maybe a messier update on modernism is needed – one that better relates to the human condition. Certain practicalities can stay – rectangular rooms are great for arranging furniture, flat walls are ideal for hanging art – but there should also be a place for delight and wonder, as well as the strange, irrational and unpredictable.
It’s not a new idea. The very architect who coined the form-and-function mantra in the late 19th-century, Louis Sullivan, used joyfully useless, totally frilly decoration on his early skyscraper experiments (his most famous buildings in Chicago look like a flower garden exploded on them). And since then, many designers – Frank Lloyd Wright, Frei Otto, Frank Gehry – have espoused different types of organicism. (Lloyd Wright, in fact, declared “organic architecture to be the modern ideal … if we are to see the whole of life, and to now serve the whole of life”).
Now, new technologies (3-D modelling software, 3-D printers, computer-guided routers) are making the aesthetic easier for architects and interior designers to integrate into our everyday lives – applying an amorphous quality to our homes and cities. And they are proving that when form and functionality collide, the result isn’t necessarily a stark, uninspired box.
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.