Functionalism searching ”truth”

Functionalism emerged in the 1930 as a reaction to the large number of low quality, often cheap copy products that had been pumped out by the growing industry since the late 19th century. Organisations like Swedish Slöjdföreningen and the Art and Crafts movement had promoted good examples and with the social and economic change, time was perfect for new ideals. In Sweden these were manifested in the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition.

The functionalists wanted to reduce architecture and everyday objects to their essence of functionality. Every aspect of a product should be based on its physical use. They searched for the objective ”truth” of every object and every building, and tried to add as little decorations and other elements as possible.

This led to many things. For example they made extensive research on how kitchens should be planned and dimensioned in order to be a suitable workplace for the housewife. The basic structure of today’s kitchens is based on this research, and of that we can only be thankful.

Many of these expressions may today seem dehumanised and plain, regarding people as machines rather than sensible beings. But you should take into account what the world looked like a hundred years ago. Functionalism took part in the vision of the developed society we take for granted today, in the western world.

I always thought that the tea-strainer above was a good example of functionality as it supports the whole process of making a cup of tea – filling it with tea leaves, staying closed, stirring and emptying – with not only basic but really enjoyable practicality. And nothing more than that.

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