Who was the functionalist??

I am trying to remember, but cannot find this for the life of me: I remember, at some point during my design education, hearing or reading that somebody (was it Bauhaus or HfG Ulm?) approached(es) design by breaking an object down to it’s most simple functions, looking at the design task as lifting liquids 20-30 centimeters, rather than designing a spoon based on our understanding of what a spoon looks like.

Who was that? Does this make sense?

I think you’re thinking of the Ulm School, and Max Bill. They were functionalists. Reducing everything to its basic function. Max Bill (the architect and principal of the school) designed this stool that was intended to serve a different function based on how you oriented it, stool, podium, bench, etc.