chapter  5
37 Pages


Of any phrase born in architecture, the phrase “Form follows function” is maybe the most

commonplace. It is a phrase found not only in architecture but also in product design,

engineering, urban design, and popular media and culture. “Form follows function” is

one of a handful of statements non-designers freely use in the praise or critique of products,

buildings, or infrastructure. Few non-designers, however, are aware of the origins of this

phrase, and even many designers are not aware that phrase is incomplete. In 1896, Louis

Sullivan published a short essay entitled “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered,”

where he made the statement, “form ever follows function.” The essay was the culmination

of five decades of rapid change in the city of Chicago.