philosopher, Faculty of Applied Arts, Belgrade

Funkcija, kakav lepi oblik...

Function, what a lovely shape...

Journal 6/2010 (Museum of Applied Art), pages 131-142


Abstract (original language):
Odnos oblika i funkcije oduvek je provocirao teoretičare dizajna, a njegovo tumačenje proizvelo je dalekosežne posledice po celokupan društveni život. Složenost relacija u kojima prebiva dizajnirani predmet, pre svega, zahvaljujući ovom, suštinski dvostrukom određenju, predstavlja rezultat sudara dva domena kulture: umetnosti i tehnike. Iako se kroz istoriju činilo da bi ovaj polaritet mogao biti relativno lako razrešen tako što bi se jednoj ili drugoj strani dalo prvenstvo, gotovo uvek je bila reč o nekom jednostranom tumačenju, a ne o „konačnom rešenju“. Jedna od najuticajnijih, a istovremeno, ne mnogo srećnih interpretacija ovog odnosa pronađena je u sloganu „forma sledi funkciju“. Ovo rešenje, koje je nadahnulo mnoge teoretičare i praktičare dizajna, naposletku se, ipak, pokazalo praznom metaforom, koja je, doduše, služila kao polazište teorijskih zanosa i praktičkih ostvarenja različitih poetičkih programa. Naposletku, razvojem mikroelektronike i nauke o materijalima, pojmovni par „oblik“ i „funkcija“ provociraće nastanak novih stavova i sporova o njihovom odnosu u okviru upotrebnih predmeta.

Key words: (original language)
oblik, funkcija, formalizam, funkcionalizam, teorija dizajna, istorija dizajna

Consideration of the relationship between shape and function is one of the most important probems of the theory of design and it has far reaching effects both on the relationship of а designer towards his creation, and on social life as а whole. The complexity of relationships in which а designed object is found, due to this essentially dual determination, is а result of а clash of two big culture domains: art and technique. Since these two domains do not have to bе considered fundametnally different, or opposed it could turn out that their products have more similarities than it was originally thought. In that light, the fundamental problem of the theory of design, and that is the probem of shape and function relationship, could get different intrepretation, and tension between esthetic and usage characteristics of the object could prove to bе derived, not the original one.The designed object would not have to bе considered exclusively; not even predominantly as an object that needs to have а certan in function. It could bе also considered as an estetical entity. Even more, complete consideration of its function, that is to say the nature of the designed object may include а number of technological, commercial, esthetic, symbolic and eccological conditions of creation, survival and decay of the object.
In the history of design, there have been recorded different approaches to interpretation of shape and function relationship, but there are two opposing ones that stand out formal and functional approach. The first one was advocated mainly by esthetics, and the second one by theorists and design practitioners. These two approaches have not resulted in two theories about the shape and function relationship, but in а whole array of somehow different interpretations of the fundamental problem of design. Nuances of different interpretations, as а matter of fact, point at the essence of these concepts, but also at the sensitivity of meaning of their relationships. Although many attempts of interpretation care out of hope that the final answer to this question would be possible, the question has not been answered yet, and serves as а basis for different kinds of theoretical elaborations and practical results.
Every designed object, as an object that should be used for something, points at the purpose that is outside itself, but as an оbјect that represents опе estethical entity, it is determined by its inner, formal organization, as well as with the relationship with other objects and everything else that surrounds it. Finally it turns out that what is usually understood as а function, is its immediate use. Although it is considered its basic function, it is by no means the only function of the designed object, and not even the unique one. Namely, when in use, the designed object performes а number of interrelated functions. Besides, the object is characterised by different meanings, and it has а symbolic tension and esthetic value, its creation is conditioned by different technological solutions and economic profitability; and its disposal by ecological standards. All these mentioned meanings and terms could Ье counted as functions, because, indeed, the object that is considered from different perspectives has to be able to meet all kinds of different expectations.
In brief, а function of а designed object is а unity of its different terms. Motto "forma follows function" that has dominated design practice, proved to be very inspirational, and its various interpretations gave different results. Besides, due to high technology development, microelectronics and the study of material, the shape and function relationship shows its curious nature and its relevance could be accepted or rejected. However, the hope that radical and single interpretation of shape and function relationship can lead to successful design has waned and become а starting point of irony of the postmodern quotation.

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