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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Hamilton



When Mark Armitage of mBark Design takes out his favourite HB pencil and scratches a new and exciting home plan design onto the back of a boarding pass (thank you for still using paper Qantas) his newest creation starts as a form that he can visualise connecting home and our natural environment.

No sooner has he finished scratching the exterior shape of the building into life he begins the most important part of the design. Making sure the function of the home enables a comfortable, nurturing lifestyle for the occupant.

His thoughtful consideration of, and attention to the priority of living well in a space, is testament to the relevance of the famous architectural mantra 'Form ever follows function'

First referenced in 1896 by Louis Henry Sullivan, it is as relevant today as it was then.

“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 recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

I believe that one of the very best examples of the value that can be derived from this principle comes when considering home design for people with disability. It always reinforces to me that designers should never consider form without function!

We designers do have a great admiration for beautiful well designed buildings, materials and interior spaces. Unsurprisingly though, we also put enormous importance on the function of a space. Unless a living space works hard for the person/family residing in it - it will never offer the independence, sanctuary, peace of mind and improvement to lifestyle that it should.

I have to admit, I am a bit obsessed with a British TV program that shows the renovation journey of the homes of people with life changing disability. The programs highlight most specifically, that these individuals and their families are trapped in buildings not suited to their needs.

The houses are always renovated well and when the person with the disability is shown through their newly renovated home they are so excited and thrilled about the aesthetic improvements! So excited.

But the moment they (and I) fall apart and become overwhelmed by the improvements is when they see bathrooms that give them personal independence, lifts that give them access to their whole home and easy access to spaces they can now share with their families!

Designer Nick Knowles of DIY SOS says that the show "changes peoples lives'

This is the moment that function trumps form and it is the moment that reinforces yet again that we love function.... and for good reason. Good design does change peoples lives.

Updated from 2016 Post Hamilton McCabe

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