Ugliness is in the ear of the beholder. Last weekend as I was trying to get a parking spot at a local shopping mall, a huge brand-new purple truck with a huge brand-new orange motorcycle attached to its back was blocking the entrance. I honked, the driver wouldn't listen. I kept honking until the truck backed up, dangerously moving towards our small compact car. So I honked wildly until the driver realized we were behind and below him. Once he parked on the side road I rolled down my window to complain of (and hopefully fight) such aggression. The driver pushed the electric motor of his tinted window to face me. I said, "What the hell were you thinking? You almost ran us over." He replied, "I didn't see you, your car is tiny and ugly." I was just about to instantly reply, "Just like your brain," but for some unexplained reason (maybe the infamous guardian angel) I remained totally silent, turned around and drove away.

Being a designer, this anecdote made me realize how important the role of beauty is in the design process. Beauty sells and of course beauty costs. I am intrigued by the role of the designer in society when we art direct photos with beautiful models and propagate the idea of beauty all over the visual world when the reality is quite a different situation. Will it be possible to design ugliness and sell it? Is it possible to do so now? No matter how ugly a design may look, somebody will eventually like it. Is there something that could be defined as ugly, universally? Researchers are continually looking for or developing the recipe for beauty but what about ugliness?

mark, Oct 31 2005 10:20AM

am i correct to assume this incident happened in ecuador? it sounds so typically american / suburban that it makes me wonder. hmmm.

as for beauty, i guess you won't be satisfied with "eye of the beholder?" i think the binary of ugly / pretty are totally culturally defined and redefined so an exact formula will always be elusive. what i appreciate as aethetically pleasing here in the states as a white male is far different than a woman in qatar. it's also different than what my equal 100 years ago appreciated.

as for an ugly product, try uglydolls.