Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

The return of the Ugly Design

November 15, 2007, 1:10 AM

Michael Bierut writes a very interesting article about “ugly design”.

I’m in no way a hasty conclusionist, I always try not to throw the rock first (usually not to throw it at all), since I’ve had my good share of client-agency/designer agency problems, misunderstandings, compromises and so on, but this part blew me off the chair in laughter:

“…Wolff Olins, the design firm that created the 2012 campaign, quickly followed it up with the jammed-together-on-a-stalled-downtown-No. 4-train-at-rush-hour New York City tourism logo, as well as the hey-mom-when-did-you-learn-Photoshop Wacom identity…”

I did read an article (on Brand New) saying NYC tourism logo wasn’t Ollins’ fault entirely, but, boy, did he say it right with the Wacom logo :))

Talking about “ugly design”, David Carson may be a “historical” designer already, but I think breaking the rules is the easy way in the books. How about making the rules? (Muller-Brockmann anyone?) It has always been so easy to piss on somebody’s work, to criticise, ridiculize, despise, and so on, but making something great, smart, maybe even never-before-seen, seems to be something like finding the designers’ Holly Graal.

On the other hand, breaking the rules, but still making great design may be even harder than making good-old-by-the book design, since, just as those wonderful a-cute-innocent-child-drew-this ads (VW Sharan or Golf GTI ad, for instance), it’s a real pain to make something to look naive and amateurish but still be well designed.

In the end, it’s only because rules exist and are created in the first place, that all the “rebel” designers can attempt to break, bend or circle around them.

Which was the first? The hen or the egg?…

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[…] You can bet it ain’t easy drawing typo that seems bad, sloppy, but looks so good. Talk about “ugly design“. […]

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