Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On Form in Design

The manufacturing of products is done by machines, since the Renaissance. Thus, the methods and processes were made easier, and machine-oriented. Thus, mass production was made easier and many goods were mass produced. But in the late 19th century, the people realized that the resources used for production are all limited, and overuse can result in the exhaustion of the resources.

As a result, in 1908, the architect Louis Sullivan, in his essay, 'The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered', coined the phrase 'Form Follows Function'. Thus the form should be only as much as a product requires, and unnecessary ornamentation and decoration of any product is uncalled for. This only puts strain on the resources.

It is also said, that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. This applies even to industrial design. The simplest of designs are the ones which last for a long time, and have the most impact on the populous, as compared to the forms which are complicated and intricate. Example - A safety pin, a spoon.

We do study and analyse form in many ways. We see it's aesthetic value, whether it is tight or flowy, whether it is visually unstable or stable, whether it is balanced, symmetrical or in harmony. Designers pay a lot of attention to make their product form-rich in order to increase it's aesthetic appeal. But, the most appealing forms are generally the simple ones. For example, consider the appeal of platonic solids, or simpler yet - A ball. Even an iPhone has an appeal to a wide range of people, all around the globe.

Also, we have to consider the contemporary trends. The Trends keep on changing with respect to time, and a designer's form should be simple, yet it should look contemporary for mass appeal.

So, that is just a little something of what one should consider while working on the form. Summarizing the essay:

The things that are necessary for a good form of a product are:

1. Acknowledgement to the function, as much as possible.

2. Simplicity. No unnecessary ornamentation or decoration.

3. Contemporary trends.

I feel, that only when there is a balance between all these three elements, the form will be a good form, which will be aesthetic, and will have a mass appeal.