Form Follows Function
This phrase was coined by the North American Architect Louis Sullivan, becoming one of the basic principles which defined the Bauhaus designs and much of modern architecture. It determined, therefore, the aesthetic of Contemporary Architecture.
It is often mistakenly used to defend a total lack of aesthetic, while nothing could be further from the truth. Nor does it justify the capricious morphology or the licentiousness of composition of a building, to which different spaces are then assigned.
It is a famous phrase, repeated in all Schools of Architecture worldwide. It was one of the principles of the Bauhaus School of Art, Architecture and Design (Weimar, Germany), founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius.
This early modernist school loathed the over-the-top Victorian style and emphasised basic, simple forms, free of ornament. In its maximum expression, we can imagine that this was the start of our current minimalism, as this sobriety affected not just the architecture, but all objects which surround the human being. This change of thought recovered craftsmanship and its functional inclusion in architectural spaces. And team work, above individualism.
The very spirit of the Bauhaus is represented in the new Dessau building to which it was moved, as a result of the influence of the Weimar Nazism which castrated the creativity and freedom that they needed. The building aimed to meet the needs of the learning process, was fully integrated into the urban environment, satisfied the aspirations of the society and was a transparent representation of life that developed within it.
This spirit would become a new revolutionary movement artistically, immersed in the war-time environment. A period of artistic avant-gardes in which alternatives for expression and a multiplicity of ways to look at what surrounds us were found in art. There were great contributions to this new vision of art.
The Bauhaus shows the development of design, architecture and arts in general over the course of the 20th century. It strengthened design and style on every scale. Many schools of art worldwide took up their example and implemented it in their respective educational models.
The Bauhaus powerfully influenced Modern Architecture, while creating a new aesthetic. “It laid the regulatory foundations and standards for what we know today to be industrial and graphic design; it can be said that before the Bauhaus these two professions did not exist in the same way as they were understood at this school.”
Personalities such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, inspired by this movement, implemented their work in Europe and the United States. These two men, together with Gropius and Miës van der Rohe, are considered the fathers of Modern Architecture, and their beautiful buildings continue to astound the world even now.