‘Form follows function’ is a design principle and phrase coined by American architect Louis Sullivan in the late 19th century, referring to the idea that design should primarily relate to core function or purpose. If you know me and my designs, you’ll know I couldn’t agree more.

This Modernist principle is at the centre of my ethos at Dauley Design. I am so passionate about purpose-first design, not just design for design’s sake. This isn’t about neglecting the beauty of design,  far from it, this is about design that balances our aesthetic needs with our practical needs, in equal measure. It’s about always starting with why in the design process.

A beautifully designed space is always much more than how it looks. It is about how it feels and how it works.

Let’s dive into why the form following function design philosophy is so important to me and hugely beneficial for my clients.

1) It makes your space more liveable 

While a space that reflects your style and taste is essential, the ultimate goal is to create a space that is as usable and liveable as it can be. 

Whilst key choices involve the selection of colours, furniture, textures and accessories, there are some important considerations to think through first to ensure your space is as functional as it is beautiful.

The first question I always ask myself is “who am I designing the space for?” 

  • Who is going to be using it? 
  • How old are they? 
  • What do they use the space for?
  • What are their lifestyle needs? Wellbeing needs? 

The needs and personalities of the people using the space help me to determine what is needed in the room from a functional perspective.

For instance, height is always a factor when designing any space. Think heights of counters, shower heads, cupboards. You don’t want to end up with a beautiful new bathroom and realise that your bathtub is too small for family members to use!

And don’t forget, a truly liveable space makes lifestyle and wellbeing a top priority. Read more about the importance of Wellbeing in Design in our blog here.

2) It makes your space more organised 

Always make sure you determine the function of a room first and then design a layout that works for that function to avoid cluttering a space. This is exactly the process I take when designing for my clients. 

Imagine you’re renovating a guest bedroom into a home office so that you can work more comfortably and effectively from home. You wouldn’t dive into decorating the space with accessories and finishes first, you would consider the practicalities and your needs before anything else. The same is true for any design renovation. 

Choosing important factors like storage, lighting and developing a floor plan should come before deciding on pieces like fabrics and trims. 

Taking a more minimal approach to design can also help to make for a more functional space. A space with less clutter and more considered pieces is much easier to clean, relax in and socialise in.

Read more about how to make a space organised.

3) It increases the value of your property

Most people won’t spend the rest of their life in the same home so it’s important to build with function in mind to maximise the value of your property. Designing a property for true functionality, not just aesthetics, is more appealing to potential future buyers who may not share the same interior design tastes. A property with a well-considered floor plan, carefully-chosen design features and the flexibility to evolve with trends and tastes will increase the market value of a property for the long term.

If you are looking for inspiration on how to maximise space alongside timeless design, take a look at my contemporary residential project here.

4) It helps save you money 

By focusing on the functionality of a space first, you can reduce expenditure on unnecessary decor, fixtures and finishes. An armchair can be unique in design but be impractical to sit on. Do you really want a chair that looks good but that nobody wants to sit on because it’s uncomfortable? By taking look and comfort into consideration you can have the best of both worlds, saving you time and money by avoiding needing to look for alternatives.

Marble is such a popular look (and one that I love!), but it isn’t always the most practical material. Depending on its use and how you plan to maintain it, adding marble into the wrong settings can be costly. But why sacrifice your design preferences for practicality? There are so many amazing alternatives that can create a similar look, whilst being functional. Consider porcelain, a composite material, ceramic or maybe an onyx, quartz or granite alternative for when marble is aesthetically wanted but impractical.

Similarly, it is hugely important to ensure that form follows function when it comes to lighting. Beautiful lights that are impractical end up being unused, and unpleasant lights that are regularly needed become eyesores. When you consider the purpose for your lighting and furniture, you’ll be able to plan for the right pieces to match your needs as well as your design tastes, without any wasteful spending.

Take a look at my blog “Planning Lighting for Your Home” here for more information.

5) It enhances the design details

When it comes to design choices, embrace the “form follows function” formula by choosing every detail specifically for its purpose and the way it will complement the room design. When choosing furniture and accessories, select based on their purpose first and then think about aesthetic considerations such as shape, colour, pattern and texture. Details are important and the unique style of a space can truly shine when you’ve ensured functionality first. Your home is your sanctuary and deserves to be both beautiful and practical. 

I’ll always practise Form Follows Function.

The key thread between all my designs is the principle that form follows function. Whilst all my designs are custom and tailored to my clients tastes and needs, they all share the idea that the design should be driven by how my clients will be using the space. 

It is so important to me that the form a room takes follows the function that the room will perform, and this principle inspires all of my designs and my design process. Especially when designing a functional space in cities like London, where space is limited, layout design is not for the faint hearted! 

To find out more about how I can create a functionally beautiful space in your home, contact me here.