The American architect, Louis Sullivan, coined arguably the most recognisable phrase in design, when he stated in 1896, that ‘form follows function’. Three words that influenced and shaped a century of design, flowing through each of its branches, and something that is used still, as a benchmark for creatives today.
Friday afternoon in Liverpool, the sun is shining and people are finishing their own working weeks. As I walk home through the Baltic Triangle, I find myself marvelling at the new ‘forms’ that have sprung in the last 5 years. The latest addition, Baltic Market, Independent Liverpool’s new venture, is an offering of bricks, mortar and tangible space. This functional venue will no doubt become a creative, innovative and iconic destination for the cities natives and tourists alike.
I am seeing something creeping into Liverpool’s culture more and more. A new trend has emerged that revolves around tangible interiors and dual purpose space. What interests me about this, is the concept of space; how the look, feel and interiors of a space can not only compliment its function, but bring it to life and attract people to it like a magnet.
Camp & Furnace, HUS and The Merchant. Some of my favourite, and most successful and recognised places in Liverpool’s lifestyle industry. The key to their success, in my opinion, is that they all share a common dynamism. They each have their own primary purposes, yet at the blink of an eye, they are adapted and manipulated into unique, multi-purposed functional venues, whilst always retaining their original charm, boasting beautiful interiors that feel considered but never forced.
The Camp & Furnace is perhaps the best example to measure against the rule that form, no longer follows function. It’s interior space is a warehouse, which in reality should feel empty and cold. Yet throw the unique mixture of caravans, fairy lights, wooden benches and a temporary bar in place and it transforms itself into a wonderland. One night it could host the bizarre yet incredible ‘Bongo’s Bingo’, the next, a unique art installation or the North West’s biggest sneaker festival ‘Laces Out’, with thousands of ‘sneakerheads’ using the space to pursue their niche passion.
Shops, venues, bars and offices are all embracing this idea of interchangeable spaces. The generation of professionals joining the workforce today are no strangers to a dynamic, fast-paced, changing world. So, why would they want anything else from their surroundings. Could this be the new norm? Gone are the days of a ‘job for life’ and maybe that goes for how we want the world to be also. Flexible, versatile, interesting.
Can we take this new concept of changeable spaces into our own lives and homes? Transforming our homes from the permeant fixtures to dynamic, stylish, contemporary interiors and design that can be manipulated, shaped and changed for whatever function we desire. Stripping back the functional and bringing forth the beautiful. Initiating character and creativity through multi-purpose design. It might never take off but imagine if it did. Let’s experiment and embrace a new way of forming functional spaces that aren’t made to last.
For interior design ideas, try:
Liverpool’s Utility www.utilitydesign.com
Manchester’s Fig & Sparrow www.figandsparrow.co.uk
London’s Goodhood www.goodhoodstore.com/lifestore
By James Parr