The Usability Post
Thoughts on design and user experience by Dmitry Fadeyev

The Embodiment Of Function

Form follows function–that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

To me, typeface design is one of the best examples of form that embodies function. Here, form isn’t just something extra, stuck on top of the underlying thing to give it a nice appearance or add meaning–no, here the form is the function. They’re inseparable because there can be no font without the letter, and the letters themselves are the form.

Each letter of a font has a certain shape and style. The shape and appearance of each font gives it its own unique character and soul, but the shape itself also gives the letter its function, its shape is the meaning of the letter. There are many styles of fonts: serious, bold, ornate, subtle, fun, simple, embellished, plain; yet in every case there is nothing superfluous about the design of the letters–they simply take shape to embody a different character–in all meanings of that word.

And so it is with great design: the thing itself gets character and soul through the form it takes–the form is never stuck on top as an afterthought, or even created before the thing itself is finished, like an empty frame waiting for its painting.

“For even falsehood, uttered by the tongue of man, seemed like truth and light before this hopelessly-deaf and unresponsive silence.”

My new book: a translation of selected short stories by Leonid Andreyev, the father of Russian Expressionism from the Silver Age of Russian literature. A piercing, pitiless glance into the heart of the human condition.

☛ Read online

Further Reading

Proust wrote that the true voyage of discovery is not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes, to behold a hundred universes that each of them beholds. Thus, in the words of Ruskin, what good books give us is not mere knowledge, but sight.

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