Function Over Form

Designing furniture for the workspace is an ever-evolving challenge. Today people strive to find pieces that fit an endless string of requirements. One that incorporates technology, provides lighting, holds personal belongings, has that extra “je ne sais quoi”, all without losing design integrity. With products having such a high bar to reach it’s crucial for designers to recognize when to push the boundaries of a design’s function and when it’s time to stop adding.

Extra utilities clad to furniture can be a double-edged sword. They can be what sets you apart but also what can take you out of the race. Success is found in walking that fine line between acknowledging the needs of the masses while designing for the individual. It becomes an anthropological study, examining how the general public handles their belongings, surrounding objects as well as themselves, honing in on those characteristics and applying the necessary elements to amplify a design’s ease-of-use while making each user feel the piece was designed specifically for them. The function of these extra elements, be it a hook, shelf, plug, or handle, must be apparent while also being impeccably placed. This equation results in a cohesive design and a person’s inherent pull to use of the piece.

On the other side of the spectrum, the downfall of these added accessories often lies in the attempt to fulfill every need in one object. Satisfying all potential users turns furniture away from the personal experience, bypassing the thought of the individual, losing the design in the process.

The fundamental roll of the furniture must always remain at the forefront. Applying accessories without proper placement or objective results in clutter and decoration, not design. A piece will quickly become a Swiss army knife of gadgets and utility, downplaying the furniture’s original purpose. Designers must use their influence to remind users that technology and other add-ons all have a place in design, but not to let the craving of a convenience pull away from what makes design carry such significance and intrigue.


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