Function vs Form

In most cases, function has higher priority than form. But form can also be an incredibly important part of function. Something that’s easy to hold and use has a thought-through form/function ratio. Consumer companies, at least their industrial design teams, have to keep this in mind to be competitive. We’ve all become so aware cognizant of design and how aesthetics can determine the ease of use of an app, a phone, a camera.

When I saw this stairwell not too long ago, I wondered who decided to put in church-like stained windows instead of, well, just normal glass. And what made the architect or developer of the property choose a staircase that was so generously wide and tall? And who chose that gorgeous green color?

There are obviously added costs when you add features. Especially if the add-ons aren’t actually adding anything. But when I walked up and down these beautiful stairs, I could understand how the people that lived there would enjoy using them. There’s a level of generosity gone lost in much of today’s residential architecture. Too much function and rarely any form to speak of. In order to produce as rationally and cost-effectively as possible, form has at best become an afterthought. Sometimes at the expense of function.

A lavatory in economy class on a regional plane is a good example. Super-functional insofar that everything you need is right there. But it’s squeezed into such a tiny space, that even if it’s hyper-functional, it’s also hyper-claustrophobic. Now when you’re lucky enough to sit in Business Class during a long-haul flight, the restrooms are usually somewhat larger in size. The WC designer has been provided a bit more room to add some form to the small space’s functions, making the experience, if not enjoyable, at least a little less unpleasant and easier to get done what you have to get done in there.