Talk:Form follows function

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I am writing an essay on how the "form follows function" philosphy is used in all art forms. Any discussion or idea would be appreciated. Applying this principle in architecture is easy to understand, but I am a litte stumped on how it applys to other forms of art. thanks, Kim

Capitalism and aerodynamics[edit]

I think these comments are POV and besides, false. There is no evidence for the “halting of aerodynamic research”, and plenty of evidence against it. For example, the tools necessary for computational fluid dynamics were not available until the last two decades – which coincided with the development of aerodynamics cars. The move to aero-efficient cars has not led to a “single perfectible optimal automobile shape” but much more variety than the boxy 80’s shapes. Furthermore, modern cars really are more aerodynamic, so aerodynamics is not just a “marketing buzzword.” (Which is not to say that it isn’t in some cases.)

A quick Google search shows that the Airflow failed to sell for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that consumers thought it looked ugly – so it was not a conspiracy by auto-makers. In fact, capitalism is neither for nor against “design integrity” as the author claims, but reflects the actual values of consumers, which may or may not match the author’s view of “integrity.” --GreedyCapitalist 23:56, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I am the author of the paragraph you deleted, GreedyCapitalist, and I strongly disagree with you. This is the paragraph:

One quiet landmark in the history of the inherent conflict between design integrity and consumer capitalism is in 1935, after the introduction of the streamlined Chrysler Airflow, when the auto industry halted serious aerodynamic research. As documented in Jeffrey Meikle’s “Twentieth Century Limited: Industrial Design in America, 1925 – 1939”, carmakers suddenly realized that engineering themselves into a single perfectible optimal automobile shape would not be good for unit sales. GM adopted two different positions on streamlining, one meant for its internal engineering community, the other meant for its customers. Thereafter ‘aerodynamic’ in auto design has been nothing more than a marketing buzzword.

Multiple issues. As to whether the 1935 event is factual, there is indeed good evidence in the well-researched Jeffrey Meikle book on streamlining cited in that paragraph, see pgs 148-152, so you are simply mistaken there. Sorry. Meikle is in Austin, drive over and talk to him if you don't believe me. The reason for the public rejection of the Airflow is historical / moot, and I never claimed that the automakers engaged in a conspiracy here (although in other cases, of course, they certainly did). They made a simple business decision to let body styling follow primarily from consumer expectations, and only secondarily from engineering matters like operational efficiency against the wind. All this is a matter of fact and I have credentials in this area. I'm reinstating the paragraph & cordially welcome your comments. --Lockley 04:56, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

I think it is an undue emphasis on a tendency for a short time in one particular part of a global industry. Cars such as the VW beetle, and particularly the combi, were very specifically optimised for aero, within other constraints. And of course since then many manufacturers have indulged in a pissing contest based on aero. The book states the Airflow failed because it was seen as a lemon, only part of which was due to the styling. It should also be pointed out that they were arguing from a false premise, the teardrop is NOT the optimum shape for a car (even if you ignore sensitivity to sidewinds which was a KNOWN problem at the time), as we know now. Incidentally the book is available on google books, from which one can see that your summary ignores many complexities in the pages that are relevant, in an effort to present a single argument. As such I am going to rewrite the para, and/or delete it. Greglocock (talk) 00:34, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
You may want to double check your own revisions in regard to "Cd". I think you meant drag coefficient, not Cadmium. Otherwise, I refuse to argue with you, since we essentially agree. --Lockley (talk) 09:10, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Introductory paragraph[edit]

May I suggest that the intro paragraph be deleted, or at least moved to the end of the article in a new Critique section. Don't criticize and analyze "FFF" before explaining what it means; it's not good encylopedic form. The first paragraph should simply state a brief definition of the term and its most essential usages. After that, everything is fair game.

I, too, have concerns about the opening paragraph of this article:
In the context of design professions "form follows function" seems like solid good sense. On closer examination it becomes problematic, controversial, and open to interpretation. Linking the relationship between the 'form' of an object and its intended purpose is obviously a good idea for designers and architects, but it is not always by itself a complete design solution. Zeroing in on the precise meaning(s) of the phrase 'form follows function' opens a discussion of design integrity that remains an important, live debate.
That whole section never tells what FFF actually is, it merely debates its merits. Could the first sentence be changed to include something along the lines of, Form follows function is a principle associated with Modern architecture and industrial design in the 20th Century which states that the appearance of a building or object should be predicated on its intended use or purpose"' or ...which states that purpose and use are of primary importance in design and aesthics should be considered secondarily. ? Is that the best way to state it? J. Van Meter 11:03, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

hahahhaha boom boom —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:09, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Cleanup tag[edit]

On Aug 22 User:Delirium marked this page with a cleanup tag, saying "as noted on the talk page, this article adopts a lot of opinions rather than documenting the subject". I'm the author of most of this material, and I can defend the main thrust and details of the article as factual and verifiable. That said, criticism welcome. Lockley 02:01, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree with the necessity of cleanup. This article still bears the modernist assumption that it is possible to come directly from function to form which is a fallacy. Most of the ‘form follows function’ rhetoric is undermined with aesthetic considerations and a priorisms. As William Curtis says: «even those few architects of the 1920s who saw themselves as pursuing a purely functional architecture were still stuck with the fact that functions do not, on their own, generate forms. Even the most tightly defined set of requirements may be answered in a variety of ways, and a priori images concerning the eventual appearance of the building will enter the design process at some point. Thus functions could only be translated into the forms and spaces of architecture through the screen of a style, and in this case it was a style of symbolic forms which referred, among other things, to the notion of functionality.» CURTIS, William J. R., Modern Architecture, since 1900, 3ª Ed., London, Phaidon, 1996 – ISBN 0714833568 p.267 Unfili 10:19, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

Software Architecture - can this be more obfuscated? Overall this may be the worst entry I've ever read on Wikipedia. Someone who has a better grasp of the subject please rewrite it. How about you rewrite it? I thought the idea of a wiki was about community involvement, when I see these sorts of tags it makes me mad no wonder people are wary of aiding a very worth while cause!

This article has a lot of problems concerning WP:TONE. Almost every paragraph describes a topic while at the same time describing why "form follows function" doesn't work. Even the introduction is critical of the topic. There shouldn't be so much convincing that FFF isn't a valid design philosophy. As an encyclopedia article the topic should be explained fully and then in a separate section, maybe called 'criticisms', explain why schools of design have drifted away from it. A lot of this sounds like an essay trying to convince people that this shouldn't be used. A criticisms section and maybe one cited comment in the intro saying that official schools of design though reject this philosophy, if that's the case, should be enough to convince people (talk) 21:01, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Opinions On The Modernist Movement:

Concerns regarding quoted 'opinion' rather than fact stated under the "Is Ornament Functional?" subtitle:

"Between 1945 and 1984 Modernism stood as the only respected architectural form in the mainstream of the profession. Everything else was illegitimate."

- This statement isn't properly referenced, and is obviously flawed: The modernist movement was considered to have 'failed' as early as 1968; with the collapse of the modernist Ronan point tower block, and the reactionary rise of Post modernism; namely the famous successes of the architects and architectural theorists Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi, Michael Graves and Kevin Lynch.

Post modernism began in the early seventies, and by the mid seventies had claimed the title of the mainstream 'legitimate style' of architecture. Architects practising 'modernism' beyond 1974-5 were few and far between. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:51, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

References to 'Songs for Teaching'[edit]

This source is a song for kids and--although fun--of questionable reliability for information on evolution or biology. Its referred to twice and adds little to the topic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:31, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

"Fungitecture" [sic][edit]

The following external link has been inserted here and at various other articles: A sense of what's up with this ican be had from the following introductory statement: "The term Fungitecture was coined to describe the peculiar resemblance between certain ancient styles of monumental architecture and the fruit of one or other species of fungus. However, Fungitecture also serves as an umbrella term covering a much wider field of human endeavour, wherever fungus imagery, lore or substance may have been invoked." There are no references to any responsible peer-reviewed literature, needless to say. This does not show Wikipedia in a flattering light, in my opinion.--Wetman (talk) 01:57, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

See response here. o8TY talk O8TY (talk) 13:27, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Product design[edit]

This section has too many anecdotal examples and should probably be condensed into a shorter section. For instance the section about the Chrysler Air Flow doesn't really say anything new about the topic. It says that designing a purely aerodynamic car can halt design, but that doesn't take into safety or comfort issues (both functions of a car). This is "OR" so I'm not putting it in the article but the section doesn't do much for the article in its current state.

Problems with this article[edit]

As several editors have mentioned above, this article has serious problems of tone and style and POV -- it is written as an essay, not an encyclopedia article. What's more, it appears to give undue weight to particular authors' approaches. For example, the phrase "form follows precedent" appears to be borrowed from James O'Gorman's Three American Architects (without attribution, by the way); other books on architecture don't seem to use it. The article smells of a combination of plagiarism and OR, but I haven't tracked down any specific plagiarism yet.

I also wonder why this article is separate from functionalism; after all, WP is not a dictionary, and "form follows function" is just a slogan related to functionalism. Anyway, these are just some quick notes for now. I hope I'll have time to come back to this article and improve it.... --Macrakis (talk) 19:46, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Origins of the phrase conflict.[edit]

The first sentence in the section entitled Origins of the phrase reads, "The first mention of the phrase could be ascribed to the American sculptor Horatio Greenough, who in 1852 was relating it to the organic principles of architecture." and the last sentence of the section reads, "The authorship of the phrase is often, though wrongly, ascribed to the American sculptor Horatio Greenough,[3] whose thinking to a large extent predates the later functionalist approach to architecture.". Is it just me, or does that seem contradictory and in need of clarification or revision or something? T13   ( C • M • Click to learn how to view this signature as intended ) 23:54, 31 May 2012 (UTC)


The section on Evolution confuses "following" in a temporal sense with "following" in a functional sense. It should be clear that evolution seeks to find viable compromises among differing design demands. It does so through a series of more-or-less random variations. So in that sense (and I believe this is the sense meant by the Functionalists) the form of a creature must comply with (i.e. "follow") its functional demands. I would remove the Evolution section since it is hard to imagine it being anything other than a debate about the meaning of the words. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:22, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Software engineering: Not[edit]

The Software Engineering term does not belong on this page. Its presence here is evidence of geeks lurking on the Web, nothing more.

Form Follows Function is about adapting design to the physical world, the reaction of Modernism to the arrival of Industrial Age materials. Software has neither physical form to adapt to nor materials to work with. Any discussion of software "form" is strictly metaphor. As the section itself concludes, "... the [x] and [y] paradigm [sic] lend themselves very well to explore, blur and invert the essence of those two concepts". No reference, probably OR. Or poetry perhaps. It's hard to say.

The very term "software engineering" is somewhat controversial insofar as it has no accepted meaning. There is no school of Software Engineering; no one is certified or licensed as a software engineer.

The cited references are weak and ephemeral. SOA was a fad, about as meaningful to computer science as "Web 2.0". The problem of assessing functional requirements is longstanding and unsolved. Until that changes, the Software Engineering section has no place here.

Jklowden (talk) 18:13, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Just curious about "There is no school of Software Engineering; no one is certified or licensed as a software engineer"; I guess by "school" you mean "school of thought", right? Otherwise you should learn to use Google my friend! Are there different schools of thought in "electrical engineering"?! How about "mechanical engineering"?! "Molecular engineering"?! How about "nuclear engineering"?! Should I go on?! And... are there any "certificates" for any of these? No! You don't need a "certificate" to become a professional in any of these fields, you need the right education, knowledge, and skills. You should really try and learn to channel your frustrations somewhere else. God I hate the internet! (talk) 04:46, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
Try practising as a mechanical engineer to the public without the necessary bits of paper in the USA or Canada and you will suddenly find yourself in the soup. Greglocock (talk) 07:22, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
I think that this section on Software Engineering should be deleted. "Form follows function" is a doctrine about the design of physical objects, and how decoration, if used at all, should be subordinated to functional design. Software is not a physical object, and the idea of decorating software is absurd. Also, the prose in this section is full of incorrect grammar. Please delete. (talk) 17:02, 1 November 2015 (UTC)

Alfred Loos "Ornament and Crime"[edit]

Alfred Loos never said "ornament is a crime" or "ornament is criminal". This would be a simplified interpretion of the things he states in his book "Ornament AND Crime". This has to be revised.

Professortiki (talk) 09:45, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

No mention of Bauhaus or Walter Gropius? Odd.[edit]

I'd think there'd at least be mention in the Architecture section, although the Bauhaus began work in other areas of industrial design before including architecture. Benefac (talk) 22:12, 27 January 2015 (UTC)


Anyone here object to the idea of spinning off that "evolution" subsection into a separate article? In selective breeding the concept is more often called "form to function" and the biology stuff doesn't really seem to fit in this article...discussion? Montanabw(talk) 04:20, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

I've never been a fan of this section. It doesn't really address the question of FFF in biology. This article started out as an opinion piece deriding FFF, and the discussion of Lamarckian evolution is left over from that. A more interesting example on this topic would be convergent evolution, but that would be beyond the scope of this article. Removing it would make more sense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:47, 10 May 2015 (UTC)


I notice some fanboy has put some photos of pretty cars into the article. One might imagine that FFF applies to vehicles with a clearly defined function whereas Fazzas Bugs and so on do not. The 2CV, original Mini, Beetle and so on might qualify. Specifically if we allow the Ferrari's purpose to be defined by aero and dynamics (bullshit but there ya go) then we find neither its aero nor its track is unusual. Equally the Bug Atlantic is pretty, nothing else. Greglocock (talk) 02:30, 2 November 2015 (UTC)

frank lloyd wright[edit]

I realise that to get any traction this article needs to throw in a few recognizable names, but FLW's buildings featured non functional decoration (the Aztec style friezes on his tower blocks) and houses that leaked and fall apart rather quickly (eg Fallingwater), neither of which are useful functions for a house. Greglocock (talk) 01:59, 15 May 2016 (UTC)