Posted by James Moynagh
James Moynagh
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on Sunday, 27 May 2012 in Design

Form Follows Function

As Industrial Designers we've all heard the quote "Form Follows Function" and I would hope that we understand what it means. For most of us it defines how we approach a design problem, but this may not always be the case. I suppose I've been reminded off this due to a number of interesting articles/interviews I read the last few weeks and it lead me to think about how we approach a design issue, especially when we were/are in college and when we first enter the design world. For you see I think many forget this quote and when they receive a brief (myself included) they straight away start into sketching pretty picture off what they would like it to look like forgetting that this has to perform a maybe function is an afterthought to form? We think off all the cool products and designs we like, and see the cool sketches the designers show on these products...

for example go take a look at the numerous website where people put up their doodles and sketches off sports shoe's. We just love to render/sketch up a cool looking runner and post it, doesn't matter if it has any improvement to how it functions but if it looks cool well then I must be a designer...I have to admit I am definitely part off this’s not we mean to be like this but more that we forget what we are trying to achieve. I like nothing better than sketching runners and football boots but more often than not forget about what I want them to do.... For those trying to improve their sketching skills this can be good at the start but there comes a point where we need to stop the sketching for the sake of it and start concentrating on what we are trying to achieve, this is what makes a good designer. I suppose what I'm trying to do is give a bit off advise to designers, especially those just starting off. I'm reminded about an interview I read this week with Alex Knox, an Industrial Designer who has been with Dyson since the early days, i.e. when there was only a handful of people in the company.

The most interesting question ask was this ( How do you approach design?) to which the reply was - By breaking it right down and starting with, “What’s the fundamental problem?” We don’t worry about what it’s going to look like — it’s all about the problem we’re going to solve and how we’re going to solve it. And then we start thinking about maybe tackling that problem in a slightly different way than perhaps everyone else did. - don't worry what is going to look like...for me that is the key to 'form follows function' What’s the fundamental problem?. What are we trying to change about an existing product? Is it make it lighter? Is it make it better? What are we trying to solve and how..

Because if you tackle a design issue and come up with a solution to make it better, how we present this can be a whole new aspect off the journey. Who says that how something looks now must be how it looks in the future? As Industrial Designers we imagine what the future looks like, so why must the future be made in the image off what we have now?


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