Journal: What matters more, form or function?

What matters more, form or function?

Avatar By Yoav Gilad
November 10, 2014
21 comments

Photography by Rémi Dargegen

I’d argue that some cars are more about form than they are about function, sacrificing the latter in honor of the former. After all if you’re aiming for a striking form concerns such as legroom, headroom, and whether or not occupants have torsos have to be disregarded to get that roofline a few millimeters lower. Many of the mid-seventies ‘wedge’ cars suffer from related issues that makes driving them a handful. The Lamborghini Countach below is such a car, just ask James Chen who is familiar with an era when outrageous was possible.

Then there cars that sit on the other side of the line such as the BMW pictured above, which is obviously a bit more restrained and infinitely more parctical. It’s almost as though the designers and engineers wanted occupants to be comfortable, mein Gott! And clearly cars such as the Porsche 911 also allow form to follow function (I’d argue to a detrimental effect in terms of styling) but driving a 911 is far more confidence-inspiring than driving a Ferrari 308, for instance.

So what matters more to you, form or function? Do some companies or nationalities do one better than the other? And can you point to a car that epitomizes your inclination?

Join the Conversation
Related

Leave a Reply

JJ
JJ

The trick, obviously, is to have the two working in harmony. Form that spoils function and vice versa is poor design.

Adam
Adam

The Lamborghini Countach was designed with function in mind, he just didn’t know jack about fluid dynamics… Thank God or we would never have it.

Samir Shirazi
Samir Shirazi

I think the word CAR DESIGN remembers Italy to almost every Petrolista. I myself am a fan of Design(Read it Form here!) more than Function. which many Italian cars are included. But nobody never refers to Italian Cars as RELIABLE (Read this Function). As I have lived In Italy since 2012, I think you will understand the reason if only you live here. to shorten my words every countries cars seem like its people…Germany,Italy,France,America,Japan…

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

In the long run I’d have to say that function is quite important. However, there are some cars that have such great form that their lack of functionality can be overlooked. However, I believe that you probably will miss that functionality at times, should you aim solely for form.

Ian Miles
Ian Miles

Form over function is fine if the function is adequate. Ferrari until the 2000’s.
Function that improves function and form will likely succeed. Lancia Delta Integrale
Function that only improves function will not save form. Any BL car
Poor function and form will fail. Pinto
Poor form and good function will likely fail. Subaru XT, Fiat Multipla.
Good form and poor function can succeed. People are not logical. Ant Lambo before the Diablo
!

Francisco Santos
Francisco Santos

You can’t put them away from each other. But in last case, I would say form. Or better yet, desirability. You don’t desire a car just for it’s performance, it has to be desirable to you, and in last case, that’s what speaks louder most of the time. It might not work very well, but you can excuse that for it’s beauty. Jaguar was a brand that lived that kind of approach. Beauty was the business card. The E-Type is the Anthem of Beauty. The Citroën C-Cactus is the last “form follows function” example the I’ve seen in the market.… Read more »

Eduardo A Saad
Eduardo A Saad

The perfect car, with german function and ergonomics, and exquisite italian form and design, does not exist. I enjoy ’58 Alfa Giulietta Spider, designed by Battista “Pinin” Farina, as well as ’62 Mercedes W111 220b fintail sedan, and dream of Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona,” BMW M1, McLaren F1. Also, 997 911 GT2, great drive, and Scuderia 16M: delicious Ferrari-flavored drive. Petrolicious = exquisite. Keep driving tastefully! Bests. E

Hayden
Hayden

To me, it’s ‘form’. Charter, style, and handling specifically. My daily driver is an ’89 Toyota MR2, which seems pretty impractical, but it fits everything I need (a folding display table behind the passenger seat, a curbside drum kit, a tent, air mattress, small cooler…). It gets good gas mileage as well. But it is tricky to work on, and at 250k miles, it needs a bit more attention than a typical Toyota.

Jaross
Jaross

Alfa Romeo 4C, TVR Sagaris = Perfect form and function?
I am surprised the BMW M1 was not mentioned.
Lancia Stratos was perfect function for what they were going for, and it was AMAZING form to be sure!
I have always preferred the ‘adolescent’ cars myself. I have a Ford Focus ST. It is a great compromise, with adolescent spirit, and in my price range..

Sander S
Sander S

That’s easy;

A great car is a car that’s able to appeal to- and maximizes the stimulant of- all sences; the feel, the eyes, the ears and the nose…..

Dan
Dan

What if the primary function of a car is to accommodate an over-sized ego? Form wins!

Dan
Dan

Mind you it seems entirely unnecessary that 99.9\% are soulless vanilla plastic eyesores!

Paul Bilek
Paul Bilek

Beautiful form follows performance-driven function.

André Borges
André Borges

Neither and both! The Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, in form of a dazzling sports machine, on top (and, in part, because of its) stunning shape, could launch from 0 to a hundred km per hour in 5,4 seconds.

Paul Harvey
Paul Harvey

In the most desirable cars form follows function to create something beautiful.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So there are no rules.

Tim Goedhart
Tim Goedhart

Although the person who came up with the idea of building my beloved Beetle is one rather not to mention, the designer Ferdinand Porsche is! The instructions were clear: the car should be able to drive a 100km/ph, carry 4 people plus bagage, and drive across the high peaks of the Alps.

Form follow function. But Italian-car enthusiasts like my dad could disagree with me.

JB21
JB21

It’s a really interesting question, and the one that’s been around since an automobile as we know it was invented. First and foremost, one has to define (the relationship between) the form and the function. And also the notion has to suit the purpose of the object in question. You see, when talking about form and function, Loewy designed pencil sharpener is totally different from a notion applied to, say, a Countach, but at the same time, very similar. Earlier automobiles were designed, and engineered through, not much from science, but instead, a lot from imagination. A designer exercised an… Read more »

Paer Pettersson
Paer Pettersson

To each his/her own, and so on. In my opinion it’s a sliding continuum between the two, depending on what the intended purpose of the car is – and merge that with company pedigree to get it right. A Land Rover Defender is beautiful in the sense that neither it’s design nor function is compromised by one another. It’s car design and architecture blended into a purposeful machine that shows it’s intent right away. But to be honest, maybe a car that is not a compromise in any way, might force one self to some compromises..?

Joe
Joe

Form should follow function. Get it to work, then make it beautiful without sacrificing performance.

TJ Martin
TJ Martin

I stand by as well as live by in my own work the old ‘ Shaker ‘ philosophy when it comes to form and function ; ” First and foremost .. make it work . Then .. without sacrificing any of the original function … make it as beautiful as is humanly possible . But never sacrifice the original function in order to pursue vain aesthetics ” Then add to the above Frank Lloyd Wright’s axiom ” .. the elimination of the insignificant ” … and you’ve got the proper balance for anything that should be called … an automobile… Read more »

Benjamin Shahrabani
Benjamin Shahrabani

As Roger Moore said in A View to a Kill when inspecting a horse for the attributes of speed and longevity, “a bit of both”. What good is a car if you can’t enjoy driving it?

…and I think you’re wrong about the Porsche 911’s styling.