By L. MOHOLY-NAGY
Contemporary design started in this country fifty or sixty years ago with the statement of Louis Sullivan: "Form follows function." this means that the function, which is the work an object is designed to do, is instrumental in shaping its form. Unfortunately Sullivan's words were not appreciated; his principle became dormant except in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
However, through the endeavors of the Bauhaus artists and their many colleagues in Europe, the idea of "functionalism" became the keynote of the twenties, vitalizing thought and action. But-- as usual--functionalism became cheap commercial slogan, its original meaning blurred.
Today, it seems to be necessary to re-examine this functionalism in the light of present circumstances. In so doing we find that the statement "form follows function" is profound if we apply it, to phenomena occurring in nature where "every process has its necessary form, which always results in functional forms. They follow the law of the shortest distance between two points; cooling occurs only on surfaces exposed to cooling; pressure only on points of pressure; tension on lines of tension; motion creates for itself forms of movement--for each energy there is a form of energy." ( Raoul Francé).
Man has used functional suggestions of nature innumerable