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Form and Content

Everything posses form of some kind, good or bad, pleasing or not; even decoration is a kind of form that has lost its way. There is no such thing as formlessness. Form and content are mutually dependent insofar as form manipulates content, and content determines the nature of its manipulation. There is good form and there is bad form. The better the form, the greater its value. Form may intensify or even change meaning; however, it never stands alone. Content on the other hand cannot hide from behind form. The more it tries, the more it reveals itself as the absence of substance.

Content and form have a complex structure that is hierarchical, with components of varying importance. On the whole, content is the primary, determining factor of form because a designer’s work embodies the creative expression of a client’s message to others. Form, the means by which a particular problem is solved, depends on and is determined by content. Therefore, the first function of form is communicative. It is the “language” in which content is expressed and through which it can “infect” people. At the same time, form has a relatively independent aesthetic value in design, because it expresses the designer’s skillful mastery of the medium. Consequently, the perception of a work of design is an extremely complex process that includes the appreciation of the aesthetic qualities of form and the understanding of form as a unique language expressing content. Most importantly, there is a moment of participation in the act of design, for the spectator must, to some extent, actively us his/her imagination to add to the form, thereby enriching its content.

In design, as in all human activity, form depends on and “serves” content, but it also plays an extraordinarily active role in design, exerting a decisive influence on content. Consequently, the harmonious relationship between form and content is regarded as a criterion of artistic merit. In this context, content and form cannot merge organically unless both have equal value. Ultimately, content and form merge, becoming one entity. Thus, it is impossible to transfer the content of one design to another. Every change of form leads to a content change, and every change in content requires a fundamental change of form.

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