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Functionalism By Parsons, Glenn

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM1106-1
Published: 01/10/2016
Retrieved: 23 April 2024, from


Functionalism, a central idea in modernist design, rejects ornamentation unrelated to an item’s function, resulting in design that emphasizes a utilitarian purpose. The style was summed up in architect Louis Sullivan’s (1856–1924) popular slogan ‘form [ever] follows function’. Unlike modernist innovations across the arts, functionalist design sought to simplify, rather than complicate, traditional forms. It drew inspiration from various sources: the beauty of animal forms perfectly adapted to perform specific biological functions, or the aesthetic merit of industrial machinery, which was celebrated by modernist figures such as Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887–1965).

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Parsons, Glenn. Functionalism. Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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