Louis Sullivan’s Kindergarten Chats: A Function Creates Its Own Form

1. In nature and in man’s work, there is the initiating pressure of a living force and a resultant structure or mechanism whereby such invisible force is made manifest and operative. The pressure, we call Function; the resultant, Form. Hence the law of function and form discernible throughout nature. A function creates its own form. Form ever follows function. Just as every form contains its function, and exists by virtue of it, so every function finds or is engaged in finding its form.

2. If a work is to be organic the function of the part must have the same quality as the function of the whole; and the parts, of themselves and by themselves, must have the quality of the mass; must partake of its identity. This organic quality descends from the mass down to the minutest subdivisions or detail, like children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and yet, they will be, all, of the same family.

3. Functions are born of functions, and in turn, give birth or death to others. Forms emerge from forms, and others arise or descend from these. All are interwoven, intermeshed, interconnected, interblended. They sway and swirl and mix and drift interminably. They shape, they reform, they dissipate. They respond, correspond, attract, repel, coalesce, disappear, reappear, merge and emerge: slowly or swiftly, gently or with cataclysmic force.

4. All is function, all is form, but the fragrance of them is rhythm, the language of them is rhythm: for rhythm is the very wedding-march and ceremonial that quickens into song the unison of function and form, or the dirge of their farewell, as they move apart, and pass into the silent watches of that wondrous night we call the past. So goes on the story on its endless way.

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