While beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, designers' taste in beauty tends to be a bit "out there" and may not always reflect that of the general public. New ideas and trends take time to move from innovators (just over two percent of the population) to early adopters (thirteen percent of the population) and finally to engage the early majority (thirty-four percent of the population). Which just goes to show that adoption is a slow process.
As an example, at this time, only twenty percent of the British population appreciates abstract art although the first abstract painting was painted over one hundred years ago. So, what new beauty might now be coming down the pipeline?
Inviting the online creative community to share their preferences for beauty provided an abundance of comments and many unique suggestions to the challenge posed below:
What is the most beautiful design of the past decade? Innovative design is traditionally evaluated by novelty and usefulness, however what about design noted for pure beauty?
The scope and variety of beauty preferences in their replies ranged from letter, magazine, catalogue and web design to consumer products, transportation and architecture, even reaching into food design.
Apple products continue to be uncontested when it comes to pure beauty. The iPhone, iPad and17" Snowball iMac caught the hearts of designers. When it came to automobiles, the Maserati Gran Tourismo won auto aficionados over. In architecture, The Birds Nest and World Trade Center 911 Memorial made a strong impression.
There was little agreement on what was the most beautiful design of the decade. However, that came as no surprise, since studies of designers judging the International Design Excellence Awards' (IDEA) past Gold, Silver, Bronze and non-qualifiers have shown only a fifty-fifty agreement, which is hardly better than tossing a coin.
Just as interesting as designers' preferences, were the discussions among designers as they argued for and defended their choices. Seldom was it the form itself that was described as beautiful, often, it was the beauty of an idea.
Many had difficulties deciding what was the most beautiful design and even to determine what beauty was, causing lengthy debates. Several felt strongly that beauty was not a visual aspect of design, however more related to the design's ability to be useful, often in a larger social context.
According to the definition provided by Wikipedia: "Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction."
A surprising number of designers found it difficult to propose a product from the past decade and some reached several decades back before they found a design they deemed truly beautiful. Examples given were the iMac and Jaguar E Type.
If this is because they find that beauty is a thing of the past or because they had just stopped following the trends is uncertain. Previous studies of designers however, suggest that designers are not particularly in tune with new developments in design. Of twenty designers interviewed, no one could predict upcoming International Design Excellence Awards winners and few could even remember the winners from previous years.
Experts are known to disagree in all fields and the creative economy is certainly no exception. However, these results may indicate that one might not be well served in placing one's trust in a single design consultant to provide qualified feedback on the beauty of their own or your company's concepts. For this daunting task, one will need an independent, external panel to outcompete the toss of a coin.
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