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Pretty Ugly: Visual Rebellion in Design
Tue, 15 May 2012 | By Tom Banks

‘Deviant. Against established criteria of what good design is. Embracing what is disliked and considered incorrect. Mistakes become virtues, create authenticity and humanity.’

This, set in white type on a jarring purple and black background, is the first page of a new book Pretty Ugly: Visual Rebellion in Design.

The book looks at the effects that can be achieved through rule-breaking. Not that designers were ever really a do-as-you’re-told, goodie-goodie bunch.
Anyhow, this is more what can be achieved from flagrant disregard for colour matching, awkward and even illegible typography, the use of ‘ugly’ materials in product design, and breaking down familiar forms.

The book argues, through some colourful examples and designer interviews, that while art has long been allowed to be awkward and ugly, design, which is more obviously functional, has never had this freedom.

‘Trends in graphic design and visual communication were until very recently, all variations on what was generally considered to be appealing. It’s only in the last few years that those working in applied creative disciplines started to rebel,’ says consultancy TwoPoints.Net, which edited and designed the book.

In one example, Omar Sosa and Ana Dominguez have redesigned bread, balancing rolls and loaves to form structures based on rock towers.


Readers' comments
Anonymous | Wed, 16 May 2012 1:17 pm


This is great! Its so annoying that when most people use the phrase, "I like the design" or use the phrase, "I don't like the design" they often just mean, "I like/don't like the way it looks". 

Its refreshing that someone in the industry is taking steps to correct the public perception that design equals styling. You can have great design that is both amazing and butt uglay.