Form Follows Idea: An Introduction to Design Poetics

Maxine Naylor, R. Ball

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored


Naylor’s critical design research, concerned with creativity and innovation, challenges the established orthodoxy and protocols of design practice and questions the traditional definitions of art, craft and design. By illustrating ‘embedded’ visual narrative, Form Follows Idea reclaims the role of reflective critic for the artist/designer. The thesis of the book is that designed artefacts can be a direct critical medium for cultural reflection, without interpretation by the design critic. Naylor and Ball use over 90 of their own sketches, drawings, designs and photographs, and employ references to Duchamp, Venturi, SITE and others to articulate this. Written at the invitation of the publisher, who specializes in contemporary art, architecture and design, and with equal involvement from Naylor and Ball, it acknowledges their culturally significant contributions to critical design thinking. The book specifically draws attention to the concept of ‘integrity’, using their own independant and joint experimental design artefacts, which are questioned in relation to three frames of reference: axioms and milestones within modernist ideology, nature and performance of materials and use of archaeological metaphor as a method for re-discovering and re-formulating design. The originality of their approach is defined in the book’s foreword by Professor Jeremy Myerson, Director, Helen Hamlyn Research Centre, Royal College of Art as ‘a manifesto for a “third way” in design, a championing of cultural enquiry within the object, which goes beyond the idea that designers just design and the context of what they create must be defined and directed by others. With Form Follows Idea, Ball and Naylor identify themselves as key players in this debate, their experimentation through design making a significant contribution to the research field’. Reviewed in Neo2, New Design and Intra (Architectural Review) the book is represented in key venues including the Design Museum, Hayward Gallery and Architectural Association.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherBlack Dog Publishing
Number of pages128
ISBN (Print)1 904772 21 8
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Furniture design, DUCHAMP, Venturi, SITE, Third Way, art, craft, design, practice, reflective criticism


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