How Modernism inspired Global Kinetic’s Core Values
By Martin Dippenaar (CEO)
My favourite period of Architecture is the Modern movement spanning 1920 to the 1960s. The fathers of the Modern movement; Le Corbusier, Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson with buildings like Falling Water, The Barcelona Pavilion, Villa Savoye, Guggenheim, and the Philip Johnson Glass House are some of my favourites. When you look at these now, they appear unremarkable, but considering what the architecture of the day was in the 1920s, it was a shock to the public.
In 1983, fresh out of school, I studied architecture. I was always interested in technology, architecture, cars, and all things designed from a young age. However, instead of a career as an architect, I chose to pursue a career in software development. Even though I moved to software engineering, my love for design and architecture has never diminished.
Modernism was a reaction to the decorative, often intimidating, often frivolous and pretentious architectural flourishes of the movements of the day. Modernism was not just a new style; it represented a new way of thinking and was enabled by new materials and new technology. Central to modernism is the idea of “less is more” and “form follows function”: the idea that only what is required for something to function, is required; nothing more. This was simplicity as opposed to centuries of flamboyant architectural styles. The buildings appeared lightweight, were functional inside and out, and friendly to the human experience.
One could argue that architecture is similar to software development in many ways: One needs a plan, a foundation, an understanding of the materials, technology and building techniques, and one would probably need to be creative and solve problems in unconventional innovative ways. But how did the ideas behind Modern Architecture influence the future?
As the CEO of a software company 37 years later, with a spectacular founding team, we created a software company that is strongly driven by 5 core values. These are values that we distilled over more than a decade and are values that everyone holds personally. The modernistic ideology greatly influenced Global Kinetics’ core values and the similarities between the two is evident as follows:
1. Simplicity, Efficiency and Quality
Essential to high quality software delivery is the idea of simplicity, keeping source code to only what is needed and not over complicating and overdesigning software. This was the central idea of Modern architecture.
2. Care and Support
Before the Modern movement, buildings were created to intimidate and impress, and often deliberately designed to make one feel insignificant. The modern movement, with its simplicity and minimalist design changed this. As workers and consumers of software and technology, intimidation is not a value we subscribe to. One can only produce the best software in an environment where engineers are cared for, supported, and care for and support others in their teams, as well as clients. If we care about others our software is more usable and guides the user in a positive and feel-good way.
3. Innovation, change and new technology
As a software company, technology, innovation and the changes we are pushing into the world, are directly related to how technology and innovative use of materials shaped Modern architecture and the architectural styles that came after.
4. Fun and being out of the ordinary
We can be serious and professional but also have fun. Look at the Sydney opera house, TWA Terminal, and Guggenheim in NYC; all fun and definitely extraordinary
5. Being a good citizen of the universe
We at Global Kinetic believe that good companies that create great software contribute to making the world a better place. Modern architecture and the related concepts of modernism that started permeating the world at the turn of the 19th century brought simplicity and allowed people to relate to architecture on a more personal, non-intimidating level and improved the well-being of inhabitants of buildings.
We know we are intrinsically attracted to art, architecture, music, concepts in the world, people, passions and causes that inherently resonate with the values that we all hold dear. This is my journey with architecture from design in the 1920s to software development now and into the future. What is yours? How are the values you hold dear expressed in what you do, your interests and hobbies?