Form Follows Function

Form Follows Function

As a young architect Frank Lloyd Wright worked for Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) in his Chicago-based architectural firm. Sullivan is known for steel-frame construction that led to the emergence of the skyscraper. Sullivan's famous axiom, "Form follows function," became the touchstone for many architects. This meant that the purpose of a building should be the starting point for its design. This principle is thoroughly visible in the plan for the Guggenheim Museum. According to Wright's design, visitors would enter the building, take an elevator to the top and enjoy a continuous art-viewing experience while descending along the spiral ramp.

To examine this principle, observe some common objects. A pencil, comb, scissors, fork, or some similar object, would be good choices for demonstration.

Suggested Discussion Topic

Discuss the concept of form and function as they relate to your school. What is the function of a classroom? Of a school building? Does the school's design suit its function? Are there ways in which the school's structure fails to meet the daily needs of the students and educators who use it? Brainstorm a list of suggestions for improving your school by changing elements of its design.

Name of Object:

_____________________________________________________________

1. Describe the purpose of this object (its function).

2. Write directions for how the object should be used.

3. Describe its design (or form) as completely as possible. Include a description of its shape, material(s), color, texture, weight, and any other details you can observe.

4. Describe how the design of the object is connected to its use.

5. Name one thing you could change in the design of the object that would make it less functional.

6. Can you think of an improvement to make the object more functional?  

Sackler Center

This presentation, comprised of selected materials from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Archives, pays homage to the first Frank Lloyd Wright–designed structures in New York City.

Works & Process

Photo: Petrus Sjövik

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Forbidden Knowledge: Ethics and Experimentation in Science and Art

Forbidden Knowledge: Ethics and Experimentation in Science and Art
Monday, April 13, 7:30 pm

Drawing on his experience of living in a Stone Age tribe in New Guinea, Dr. Robert Klitzman, discusses how cultures have balanced tensions between ethics and experimentation over time.

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On Kawara, Telegram to Sol LeWitt, February 5, 1970, From I Am Still Alive, 1970–2000. 5 3/4 x 8 inches (14.6 x 20.3 cm). LeWitt Collection, Chester, Connecticut © On Kawara. Photo: Kris McKay © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

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