Functionalism, aesthetics Was:(RE: I come to praise .join, not

Carlos Ribeiro carribeiro at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 20 02:49:22 CET 2001


I'm lost for words... This summarizes a lot of concerns that sometimes I 
find so hard to explain. Anyone who has actually *read* Christopher 
Alexander's books on design should know that the best solutions are the 
ones that take into account the inner sense of satisfaction of their end 
users. As Alexander puts it itself, it is a rewarding experience born out 
of the "completeness" of the solution. The best solutions also share 
another common trait: they look *and feel* good to the untrained eye. 
Beware of works that can only be appreciated by experts - they are way too 
trained to see the obvious.
Mike C. Fletcher wrote:
>         The reason I felt it necessary to jump in here again is the implicit
>creation of a "inner circle" of the "initiated" who are considered "worthy"
>to contribute to a discussion about the evolution of the language.  The
>users of a system, whether it is a building, a language, a piece of
>software, or a chair, need to be heard.  A user complaining that something
>is "ugly", "bad" or "wrong" needs the nature of their discomfort
>ascertained, and that knowledge integrated into further design decisions.
>         Designers who ignore their users, assuming that their own 
> understanding of
>the system is correct, and that anyone who is unable to speaking the dialect
>of designers cannot possibly contribute to a design, will create
>monstrosities which are next to impossible to inhabit.  Functionalism only
>works when the understanding of "function" is broadened to include the
>entire process of inhabitation, not just the parti-sketch with which the
>architect is fascinated.  The modernist movement proved this time and again
>with awe-inspiring buildings which failed to be good places to live.  The
>postmodernists continue to prove it with each building they inflict upon the
>world.
>Your friendly neighbourhood designer signing off...
>Mike

To summarize it: a  *technically* optimal solution for a problem is not 
always the *best* solution. If it does not look intuitively good for most 
users, its probably a bad solution.

Its unfortunate that in many cases the non-expert user keeps quiet, 
assuming that whatever opinion the "master" haves, its going to be better 
than theirs - after all they are the so-called experts.

Carlos Ribeiro



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