”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 recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”
The above quote is from Louis Sullivan, an American architect of the late 19th-century, best known for his protegé, Frank Lloyd Wright, and for developing the shape of the tall steel skyscraper in 19th-century Chicago.
His quote above, taken from an article about the artistic design of tall office buildings, has been condensed to one perhaps more familiar to most readers which is:
Form follows function
How something looks, its form, should reflect what it does, its function.
I really like the 21st-century rise of ”Lifestyle Design”. Tim Ferris, author of books including The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and Tribe of Mentors, would be one of the leading proponents of this school.
I find that most of the people I’ve met don’t think much about designing their lives. Their lives are designed to serve a function created by someone else.
Perhaps this is inherent in what Thoreau meant when he said,
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation…
Does the form of your life follow a function you chose? Or did someone else choose it for you?
If you’re living a life that looks the way it does out of necessity to fulfill a function that is more useful for someone else than it is for you, stop and think what you can do to re-design it so that it functions first for you.
If there is anything essential and exceptional about American Freedom, it’s to be found in the answer to that question.