Innovation Summer 2013: Design as Strategy

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Classic Edsel at the Henry Ford Museum

“Beauty and folly are old companions.” —Benjamin Franklin But ugly is important. Ugly makes beauty look better. Spring in England is the most fabulous time: flowers blooming, warm sunny days. But really it seems so glorious because all the other rainy cold days are so horrible. Contrast. We need ugly to make beauty. Can we have good without bad? So the fastest route to more beauty may be more ugly. Maybe that’s folly. Benjamin Franklin said, “Beauty and folly are old companions.” The Beauty and the Beast maybe relative—but beauty is eternal. Plato told his pupils, “When he looks at Beauty in the only way that Beauty can be seen—only then will it become possible for him to give birth not to images of

virtue, but to true virtue (because he is in touch with true Beauty).” Then with a little tip of his toga to us designers: “The love of the gods belongs to anyone who has given to true virtue and nourished it, and if any human being could become immortal, it would be he.” What if everything was beautiful? Does more beauty only dilute the effect? Flood the market? Lower the price? It’s complicated. Ugly can be beautiful. Look at Barbara Streisand and Johnny Depp. Punk rockers, grunge and the 1958 Buick or 1957 Edsel (OK! Not the ’58). It’s not as easy to find an illustration of something ugly as I thought! What about the ugly duckling? Is cute a subset of beauty? Where does the kitsch monkey wrench fit in? Maybe using the word “beautility” to raise the value of beauty or making more ugly things so the good stuff will look better are clunky strategies. The easiest way is for us designers to just get to work making more beautiful stuff. —Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA

I N N O V A T I O N summer 2 0 1 3


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