Why design isn’t a fight against the ugly


For me, design is more than just artistic sensibility. It is the ability to step inside another’s shoes, understanding what they value, what they hold close to them; and create something that not only speaks the same language, but speaks to those dreams and inspires that person to believe that they are worth a whole lot more than what they can see.


That is why, in a lot of the self-directed projects I have been working on (in particular, Bloom), I run with this theme of using discarded objects to create something beautiful. It challenges our perception that something has to be perfect in order for it to have any value. Oftentimes, we believe the same thing about ourselves—that we have to fit into that model for us to have worth, rather than challenging the standards by which we measure ourselves. 

Design is the same. I disagree with Massimo Vignelli when he says, "[that] design is a fight against the ugliness." It isn’t. The most powerful artists of history understood this. Where most people would see a hunk of marble, Michelangelo saw a masterpiece. He didn’t despise the stone in its basic form. He understood what would happen to the rock if he carved this way or that, he understood where it came from, and what it could be. When people saw a piece of cardboard, Edvard Munch saw it as a safe place to confide in. He saw it as an outlet, a place where he could relieve some of the terrors he felt. One day, The Scream was shared with the world, and it probably felt unusual for Edvard Munch to realise that he wasn’t the only person in the world who felt afraid.


You see, design is seeing the potential in the everyday—the mundane. It is having the capacity to see how one small idea, if guided and cared for, can ultimately shape how we relate to other people. 

Our lives are comprised of both the good and the bad—meaning that our lives (even though we may not want to admit it) are inextricable from the ugly. It is only what we choose to make of it, that determines what is beautiful.


These are just the ideas and reflections of one person, so if you would like to contribute to this discussion, please share your comments below or send a message!