Aesthetics in Design


Aesthetics, as one of the most initial motivation for design, is either too much emphasized or under-evaluated. The tension between beauty and ethics has always led to discussions among scholars.  These discussions are valuable because designers, even the great ones, tend to invest either the aesthetic aspect or the ecological/ethical, and ignore other factors.
Beauty can be deceiving, but beauty is not evil. I agree with the author Lance Hosey that the human need for beauty should be fully respected and protected. We human are wired to appreciate and value beautiful things, as a trait for survival. Beauty is always associated with health, youth, vitality, productivity and abundance. We are so intuitive to sense beauty that we are able to make quick decisions in the natural environment. Although the modern world might no longer require us to make fast and intuitive decisions, the way we perceive things still remains very primitive and irrational. Humans are attracted to beauty, this is and will be a fact for a long period of time. Designs that don’t meet this need will fail to sustain itself through our humans’ subconscious selection.
What is beauty? What are the things that are considered aesthetically pleasing by the most people? These are interesting questions for designers to ask. Historically architectural beauty has not been associated with sustainability and has been even the opposite. Before the lack of resource started to concern people, the most labor intensive craft and the most fine and expensive material were seen as beautiful.  “Waste spoils taste.” The most visited historic buildings are oftentimes the most labor intensive with the most expensive material. Luxury even in today,  is always in our language when we describe beauty. In modern times, people’s aesthetic taste started to vary significantly. More styles are considered to be visually pleasing, including industrial beauty, pop art, something no longer associated with the word “expensive”.
Designers played a critical role in the development of people’s aesthetics. It is hard to answer the question of whether there is a universal rule for the ultimate beauty. However we do know that designers can change the way people see things. A different way of looking at something will influence whether we determine it is beautiful or not. Before Le Corbusier, houses were never seen as “machines for living”. Throughout time more and more people started to embrace his philosophy in his design and appreciate the beauty in his design. Not only do we have the power to change people’s mentality but also we should to a degree be responsible for the result. I am against the waste in design personally, and I believe it is avoidable by gradually shaping people’s aesthetics. Fur is no longer prevalent in the fashion world. Art pieces using recycled material are not hard to find nowadays, and the fact of the recycling process add to the attraction. It is rather, a choice for designers to determine whether to change or not.