Functional Beauty

Posted: August 4th, 2011 | Author: Manuel Lima | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Functional beauty is an intrinsic formula of Nature; moreover, it’s an intrinsic formula of great designs, where both elements (function & aesthetics) are highly intertwined to the point of becoming indistinguishable. The discussion of one versus the other occurs primarily as an argument to cover poor designs, which tends to fail by not considering both elements as equal parts of the same equation.

The following quotes should be read as an ode to functional beauty, an enduring formula for great designs:

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“The care for the beautiful leads us to the same selection as the care for the useful… The buildings we admire are those in which the architect has succeeded in proportioning the means to the end, in which the columns seem to carry the burdens imposed on them lightly and without effort.”

Henry Poincaré (1908)
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“Moreover, the perfection of mathematical beauty is such, that whatsoever is most beautiful and regular is also found to be the most useful and excellent.”

D’Arcy Thompson - On Growth and Form (1917)
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“The philosophical definition of beauty must set forth its purpose or function in the universe. The nature or constitution of beauty, then, can be only the combination of qualities fitted to bring about this end.”

Ethel D. Puffer
, The Philosophical Review, (1904)
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“Pressing beyond a Kantian aesthetic of form and beauty, we might suggest an aesthetic of function. The art may have served a practical function for its original viewers, and the aesthetics of the art should then be related directly to that function - an aesthetic that encompasses the art’s ritual purpose for which it was created.”

Thomas Heyd and John Clegg, Aesthetics and Rock Art, (2005)
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“Above all else, a visualization is beautiful when it is useful. A visualization is beautiful when it elegantly and appropriately makes the viewer think about the information organized in the visual display. A visualization is beautiful when it allows the viewer to gain insight and understanding into the information, especially when that information was not appreciated in some other form, such as written prose. A visualization is beautiful when the information is thoughtfully arranged in such a way that patterns and structures are revealed.”

David J. StaleyComputers, Visualization, and History (2002)
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“All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.

Philip Johnson
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