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What's In Our Name?

Posted by Justin Taplet on April 19, 2012 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Design Function, LLC. is the official name and its meaning goes a long way in communicating exactly what we hope to do as designers. Design Function rolls off the tongue easily without a second thought, but if you do allow yourself the time to consider it please do and continue reading.

Design Function is a multifaceted name and takes on the qualities of a homonym. When most speak of design in regards to products and or buildings the phrase, "form follows function" is no stranger. 'Form follows function' is an approach many designers utilize and develop to produce works that are perfect to fulfill the needs set out by the product or building user(s). So, when we say, "Design Function" to one that has any familiarity with the design process this phrase, 'form follows function' is undoubtedly bridging the connection to our company name. This assumption would be accurate, yet incomplete.

The other Design Function meaning - Design F(x), is derived from our world of mathematics. If you have the recollection to gather those long lost memories of Algebra I class you may be able to quote the definition of a function as- "A relationship between two variables (x and y), in which each input (x) produces exactly one unique output (y)." This also pinpoints our guiding philosophy of design and practice, which states that what we do as designers is nothing more than take ALL of our client's needs, concerns, problems, aspirations, etc. and processes them in such a way that produces exactly ONE and only one unique project no matter if it is a building, business card, website, or product. A function is like an agent that takes one thing (input) and turns it into another (output). This is exactly what we do; we are the agents that take on all the input (client needs, etc.) and turns it into something uniquely tangible. Furthermore, just as, y, depends on, x, the final product- the design we do- entirely depends upon all the input we receive.

I believe that this analogy is very clear and specific, although admittedly a bit vague due to the lack of daily use of mathematical functions by most and so expect when most see Design F(x) to render it "Design F.X.", but nonetheless it's an idea that precisely defines all that we do.

Cartesian, Computation, and Stuff...Possibilities

Posted by Jonathan on April 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Point, line, plane, mass is one of the first fundamental teachings rendered to one beginning the study of architecture. Whether it is deliberately taught as a principal focus of the program or whether it is realized through various design exercises, no doubt one is very much aware of it presence and importance.


The ability to design within these initial constraints through addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication seem satisfying at first but one soon realizes how rigid these constraints truly are; rigid not only in the aesthetic sense but also in the sense of operation. The possibilities are soon expired thus limiting the design potential.


Exploration in the principles of topology and computation opens up the possibilities and optimizes the design potential. For instance, topology allows for the same fundamental object (let’s say a torus for example, refer to Experiments in Topology by Stephen Barr) to be manipulated in an infinite number of ways which vary in directionality and scale, which also introduces “movement” or the evolution of geometric progression (eventually integrating rhythm and or patterns). Long as the connectivity of the fundamental shape is not destroyed then we are able to optimize geometric success.


The process or functions that control these manipulations are maintained through an algorithmic sequence of instructions. This ordered list of sorts allows one to control overall constraints and boundaries while totally optimizing the possibilities within. This is the beauty of the algorithm. Within each order of operations, pertaining to each specific algorithm, an overall rhythm emerges which makes this function advantageous for design and quantitatively speaks to the highly regarded and renowned design ideal of “form follows function”; quantitatively so because the function was achieved with knowledge of direct and exact quantities referencing various aspects of the design challenge.


This method of actually using computation in a direct sense to design or rather deriving at a solution of algorithmic proportions through a use of other exercises always emerges as a point of discourse primarily because of the whole notion of intent. However, intent is the very catalyst that drives the entire algorithmic process; categorically and empirically of course but nevertheless the brain child to this phenomena of the design process. So well in fact that the geometric result is nothing short of an unforeseen, sublime, and very appropriate response as a design solution.

An Urban Approach - The City: The Client

Posted by Justin Taplet on April 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Common sense will tell you that buildings are made for people; specifically for the people inside of each particular building the person finds their self being in. The range of building uses varies as greatly as the scope of all possible human activity and the result of that is various building typologies, forms, and functions.In the architectural world two of the most common guiding principles that designers litter their vocabulary with are 'public' and 'private'. When a project is deemed 'civic' or 'public' it takes on a certain persona just as a building that is built for a private company or individual takes on a particular feel as well.

Why do we have such a dividing line? Why does a building have to be deemed 'public' or 'private'? Why not both? What I'm suggesting is more about the approach one takes in building design and less about the limitations of spaces people can or cannot  occupy i.e. private property vs open parks.

There is an approach  that can alter our urban experience entirely that has not been given the room to grow in today's modern practice of architecture (of course there are many factors and best practices that cause our current methods, but this is not the matter of this writing). 

A designer has an obligation to their client- to serve and provide for the entirety of the client's needs, desires, and wants; to investigate, inspect and analyze all matters concerning the development of a building suitable for that client. In many cases this approach has resulted in cities like Houston, TX - streets scattered with individual self serving buildings. These self serving buildings miserably attempt to define an urban landscape. We are left to define our urban landscape with an 'oh yeah' attitude. Houston's urban experience is nothing more that an unintended consequence of self serving people and business models.

Just as our own true intentions will always manifest through our behaviors and thus define who we are and what we do as people, our creations (buildings) will do the same. How can we as designers, planners, developers, builders, contractors ever expect to create a fulfilling urban experience when our design intentions do not look beyond the person(s) writing your check or one's ego?

We are all accustomed to asking ourselves 'what about the user?', but I pose-  'what about the city?'