Style: Functionalism

It’s often seen as more of a cliche than an element of style, but the paraphrased maxim, that form follows function (or at least that it should) is an essential primer for all forms of design. It’s the idea that an object’s use should determine the way it is built and placed. There’s a contrast in the image above (credit: SEIER+SEIER) that perfectly highlights the difference between functionalism and other styles. The famous maxim comes from Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, shown in this excerpt:

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling. It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognisable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.

Sullivan explains that the size of a building, the spacing of its features, and so on, should as a law only be driven by the building’s function – ‘the life is recognisable in its expression’. An example of this is the two pictures below. The building is very simple, and there is no ornamentation. It’s implied that if you follow the law of functionalist, the end result will be aesthetic. And it is a specific type of aesthetic – very pared back, understated, clean, yet elegant. Some people find this boring, but there is still opportunity for variety in colours, and the surroundings of a building – the excitement is more subtle.

rimage
rimage-24
Credit: Stadshem (Gyllenkrooksgatand 13)

Yet what does ‘form follows function’ mean for interiors? This is the foundation on which a lot of Scandinavian design is based. Below is part of a library designed by Alvar Aalto, a Dane, in European Russia. The room would be relatively plain if it weren’t for the wood used. The plants could be described as ornamental, and maybe in this regard the room isn’t purely functionalist, but to me it’s about softening the gap between the outside and in. That has purpose.

15184395591_478c2444c3_b
Credit: Flickr user Ninara

Grand century-old apartment with a balcony and working fireplace

Okay, so not quite a full century, but only a few years away. This is another Gothenburg flat on the market that I thought looked quite special.

One detail to take away here is the lighting. Whenever someone asks me how to light a space, I tell them my rule of thumb is to have three separate sources of light. For example, I’d have one or two accent lights (such as an uplighter floor lamp), ambient light from the ceiling, and some sort of task lighting (like an adjustable desk lamp). In this apartment you have multiple sources of lighting in every frame and it blends in perfectly. In fact, even when the lighting isn’t in use it still adds as a decorative element. If you’re interested in the overhead light that’s in the featured photo above the dining room table, you can see it on Petite Friture’s website for €885*, though a more affordable copy is shown here.

rimage-2rimage-3rimage-4rimage-5rimage-6rimage-7rimage-8rimage-13rimage-9rimage-10rimage-11rimage-12rimage-14rimage-15rimage-16rimage-17rimage-18rimage-19rimage-20rimage-21rimage-22rimage-23rimage-24rimage-25rimage-26rimage-27rimage-28rimage-29rimage-30

Understated Scandi-style in a 1930s Gothenburg flat

This is such a perfect example of Scandinavian style that I had to share; it’s cosy, the palette is simple, there are strong lines throughout the place, and it’s all pared back. If you’re interested in more like this, why not follow us on Facebook for regular updates?

You can buy the swan poster here, but shipping outside of Sweden is around three times the price of it, so take that into account! If anybody knows where the lamp is from in the kitchen nook, please comment below.

rimage-2

rimage-5
Does anybody know where this lamp is from?
rimage-6
The herbs in the kitchen really add to the mood.

rimage-7rimage-8rimage-9

rimage-10
I wonder what records they play!

rimage-12rimage-13rimage-14rimage-16

rimage-17
Beautiful wood.
rimage-18
The exterior; the flat’s balcony is to the back of this building.
The full tour  is from Stadshem: Source

An eclectic vintage pad in Schöneberg

Berlin is known for individuality, and Rote Insel – a district of the city – is too (literally ‘Red Island’ due to the railway trenches and leftist sympathies that characterised the place). For some reason the area survived many of the air raids during the war and managed to retain a lot of its characterful period buildings such as this one. The island was home to famous entertainers such as Hildegard Knef (who I imagine was singing about the island here) and Marlene Dietrich (acting alongside the great David Bowie in this video). What better location for an apartment as eclectic as this?

_77c6412-edit

mp%20sb%20scho%cc%88neberg%20coming
This huge poster is so striking, it makes me want to copy this style.

_77c6452-edit_77c6468-edit

_77c6494-edit
The minimal modern kitchen forms a good contrast with the bold older features in the rest of the apartment

_77c6513-edit_77c6520-edit

_77c6536-edit
Similar to the kitchen, the minimal look of the bathroom is core to how the rest of the apartment’s style works. If everything in the house were strong and bold it could become exhausting to look at. Can you spot the fish here, though?

_77c6544-edit

Source

January kitchen focus

The party’s always in the kitchen, or so they say. With this in mind, a kitchen should be a focal point in your house, with spaces to lean against (such as an island) or sit down (bar stools or odd chairs). Sometimes merging your kitchen into another room can make your home feel cosier – and frees up space elsewhere; plenty of homeowners have a kitchen-diner, but some have really made the kitchen-diner-living room work out. Here’s a preview of what kitchens we can expect here for the month ahead.

Read More »