Form Should Follow Function

Topics: Hummer, AM General, Design Pages: 7 (2399 words) Published: September 8, 2012
Form Should Follow Function

The history of design can teach contemporary designers about the achievements and mistakes of the past. Such examinations of history show that lessons can be learned from the varying disciplines focused on the forms and functions of designs; where different designers take different standings on what is the appropriate form for the desired function. Burkey Belser, an information designer, discusses contemporary design, and that “The mirror has shattered and fragments of design movements are now strong, moving in parallel streams”. (Belser 2002) This statement shows the drift caused in design through history and the increase in individualism that now exists. Examples can be seen in all aspects of design, where designers take different views, and their designs may hold too much focus on their form or function, which weakens their standing in society as a design, while others may have the right balance where the purpose is for the function and the form is made to suit the idea. Good design results when form and function are in balance. The idea that ‘form follows function’ can been understood as: a description or prescription of beauty. The basis of description is that beauty is created from the function, where the designer would focus on the use and abilities of the design, rather than just the aesthetics. The hope behind this is that consumers would choose a product for its functional properties rather than the form it holds, which could have much unnecessary ornamentation included. Results of such design basis can vary dramatically, where designs may be timeless, but may also be seen as uninteresting and simple by consumers. The prescription approach holds form secondary to function, where form follows function acts as a guideline, although this can have its issues, where designers may compromise form for function or vice versa for a particular design, instead of focussing on the aspects which will be more important for the success of a product. Humvee

One example of design where form follows function can be seen with the High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), a name which was shorted to sound like “Hmm-V” or “Humvee”; a lightweight, all-terrain vehicle which was created by AM General Motors in the 1970s. The vehicle was contracted by the United States Army, when they realised that the use of militarized civilian vehicles could not satisfy the requirements. AM Motors received a contract to develop prototypes for the vehicle in 1981 with a production contract for 55’000 HMMWVs to be completed for 1985. A design commissioned by the army, made for the army, it has continued in use ever since. The function of its design was to suit the army requirements, so it was to be maintainable, reliable and safe for soldiers. The design would have to be suited to the functions required of it in battle, and with that, they would have to be interchangeable where they may be carrying weapons/cargo/troops etc. This issue was taken care of with the original Humvee, where 15 configurations of the same vehicle all shared the same engine, chassis and transmission. This meant there would be less training required, as each model would have the same foundations. The design of the first HMMWV was true to its function, creating a tall, wide and heavy vehicle, which would stick to the road, no excessive decoration, only what was required. With this form, it perfectly suited the function, which required it to be simple, but effective. Hummer H2

Hummer H2
It was with the design for public consumption that the function of this product can be challenged, while it was originally an army asset, it has become available to the public as a vehicle, while it is an adaption of the original, much of the inner workings had remained unchanged which far exceeded the requirements of the average consumer driver. These changes began when AM General created the Hummer, a civilian vehicle based on the Humvee. As the...
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