Monday, June 16, 2008

The Beauty of Efficiency and Functionality

In art and design, naturalists give beauty a similar explanation. They say that what we call beauty is simply that which displays efficiency and functionality. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous maxim “form follows function” summarized his belief that designing for efficiency tends to result in beauty. The supersonic Concorde aircraft has been called the most beautiful machine in the world. Someone once asked its designer how much effort he put into giving the plane its extraordinary elegance and grace. He replied that every contour was plotted solely to make the plane fly as efficiently as possible. His success at utility gave the plane beauty as a natural by-product.

Things that function efficiently do tend to be what we call beautiful, whereas things that are clumsy or defective do not. Health is beautiful while sickness and decay are not. Life is beautiful, and death is a horror. Harmony is beautiful, and dissonance is repelling. Order is beautiful, whereas chaos and imbalance make us uneasy and tense. Beauty seems to grow out of efficiency and functionality. We don’t find beauty in waste, decay, brokenness or malfunction.

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