Within our Inclr app, we explore the relationship of function and form in the realm of technology. Tech together with function is prevalent concept. You see claims to better efficiency in every sales pitch. But what of form? Whilst there are more visual ways to navigate information than there ever were, they seem to be only the scratching the surface of what is possible, and arguably what is better, for tomorrow’s tech. Why is visual and spatial intelligence important? Are lists and grid’s enough for all kinds of information and for tomorrow’s needs? Or should we be searching for more ways to present and structure information?
The truth is we live in a visual and spatial world. We don’t live in 2D. Lists and grids are very useful, but as a dominant concept I feel we’re missing a whole lot of opportunities. In the past, architects like Le Corbusier have tried to make cities out of machines concepts like repetition and these experiments have failed time and time again. In today’s world, architects have become more in tune with what people need to create successful and habitable places, by introducing a concept called Placemaking. It simply is an idea that tries to convert objective space into subjective place. There are many techniques which we need not get into, but they revolve around concepts like scale and time, how a place evolves diurnally, seasonally and functionally and how the human scale relates to those elements.
In the tech world however, placemaking is no where to be seen. UI/UX designs generally entice users to make better use of its functions. This kind of formula is what is known as Form follows Function in the architectural world. What architects prefer to do is mix and match with Function follows Form. How can UI/UX make a user want to be there because it’s where they want to spend their time in, regardless of the function. Like a seat in a park, with a majestic view, doing nothing, meditating or having a picnic. Its function evolves but the form, the scene, the place, remains consistently habitable and meaningful. If we were to make a park or park bench follow function, then much of its beauty and richness would be lost. Where is that in UX and UI and isn’t this ever more important in tomorrow’s tech? If we are to evolve into mixed realities, how can we create digital designs that make us want to be there, rather than follow a list or grid function?
It’s a large topic, a bit like what GUI’s were when they were first introduced. They weren’t seen as relevant at the time. But now that they have become second-nature, what is the next thing that we see as irrelevant today but is possibly, impossibly, inseparably necessary in years to come? I believe the clues are to follow what we have yet to explore but can’t live without — space and visuals.