The good thing about the famous quote “Form follows function” is the fact that we can recognize the product by its visible working principle and immediately know how to use it. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be designed in such way. What about form aesthetics or inspiring mysterious looks or design which can fit your personal style? This is often ignored because of dominant constraint of the product function, limiting form freedom when designing.
When we wanted to design a bike bell for Batavus, our goal was to design a unique sound but we concluded that people on the street might not be able to recognize the new sound in order to react. Therefore, instead of focusing on re-designing the function, we focused on re-designing the form, which later became our internal project.
Thinking of bike bells in general, they are not much different from each other in terms of form. Yes, they can have different size, colour, graphic and slightly different shape but they always have a round form in order to make sound. However, our idea was to start with design and then adapt the functionality. The result was an aesthetic and good looking bike bell, amplifying the simplicity and purity of form.
Many people would probably wonder whether our new product – BELLL, is an electronic device. Or if it’s a bike bell, how does it work? The cool thing is that BELLL works like a simple traditional bike bell and it has a square shape. This was our major functional problem but it is not difficult to figure out how we solved it.
Nobody ever thought of designing a bike bell in such way because of functional problems. We didn’t care about that and we still did it AND we made it functional. Not only that, we also thought about the form aesthetics and function of the mounting ring. There are no screws or straps. Just click it on your bike and hit the road. The BELLL not only looks good on its outer visible part, it looks good everywhere. It looks so good that maybe somebody will steel it but don’t worry about that unless the thief has some tools and knows how to detach it without breaking.
The BELLL is a good example of how products can be designed to be functional and yet beautiful. It is harder to follow form than follow function. Therefore, it is harder to design things to look as people would want them to look.