Function

 

Every day, we navigate our physical environment with the aid of objects. From the most basic things like clothes, to the more advanced technology of mobile phones, we as a species have advanced ourselves by creating tools to enhance our ability to survive and thrive. This ability to utilise objects is so fundamental to us, that it tends to leave some objects overlooked. A great example of this is cutlery. In the west, knife, fork and spoon are the only tools you’d approach to help you eat your food. Unless it’s pizza. If you eat pizza with a knife and fork and not your hands, you’re a crazy person. Anyway, if look to the east it’s chopsticks that are the traditional way to eat. There are so many other ways we could be eating our food, but if you walk into a restaurant, what will be sat on the table? A knife, a fork and a spoon.

 

In an episode of the Netflix original series Chef’s table, the head chef of Alinea, Grant Achatz, displays several innovative approaches to dining.[1] In many cases, he sets up beautiful arrangements of food straight onto the table, which look like works of art.

[2][3] 

In another instance, he creates an edible balloon…made of cheese. The reason I’m drawing attention to this is because so many things have become normal to us, that it’s very rare for us to even question how effective they are as objects. Who says a fork is the best tool for eating food? Why not chopsticks? Why not just have your food filled with helium and floating above your head?

 

When our everyday objects are questioned, there is huge potential for exciting new experiences. Quite often I feel like the experience of the user is underestimated in design. So many times, I’ve heard ‘form follows function’, the famous quote from Louis Henry Sullivan, used as a design mantra.[4] While some objects may call for this approach, does it always have to be like that? Isn’t it a bit boring to apply that rule to all our designs? Is the primary value of our everyday objects that they function? I think as much value should be placed on the user being able to enjoy objects for the sake of enjoying them and taking pleasure in interacting with them in weird and wonderful ways.

 

 

[1] Netflix. (2016) Directed by Brian McGinn. [Online] www.netflix.com [Accessed on 15th Feb 2018]

[2] Alinea. (Date unknown). [online] https://alinearestaurant.com/site/cuisine/ [accessed 15th February 2018]

[3] Alinea. (Date unknown). [online] https://alinearestaurant.com/site/cuisine/ [accessed 15th February 2018]

[4] Guggenheim. (Date unknown) [online] https://www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/form-follows-function [accessed 15th February 2018]