19 February, 2011

Surviving Bad Design, Part Deux

Our second instalment in an ongoing series of reasons to fear people's judgment turns its eye on matters of taste and choice. Whereas Part One detailed a poor design that sprang from a few unhinged individuals affecting untold numbers of innocents (and students) in brief but painful ways, today we explore those curious design mis-steps I call Feeble Attempts at Radical Taste. Design FARTs frighten me because not only do they likely spring from the creative loins of aesthetic first cousins, others will actually come along and purchase them, spending years driving, cleaning, and even polishing these things.
The Real Problem:
(sidestepping the fact I am a design snob) These same people are also all driving on the same roads I cycle on, making subjective decisions that are no more sound than what led to little useless chromed widgets on fenders in the first place.
What really chafes here is the cascading effect of a FART. History of dangerous design tells us this is not as benign as a bunch of butterflies flapping their wings, ignorantly generating cyclones halfway around the world.
We instead see uninspired designers stepping into the cloud of other manufacturers' FARTs and deciding that, Yes, I too would like to update our tired model with a pointless chromed exclamation mark! A dash of something sophisticated, yet… uhm, uh yeah! - edgy!
And when people buy these aberrations they just encourage the illusion that the FART was appreciated, when in fact it merely came with a vehicle that may have had the lowest lease rate in its class.
Why would someone who thinks this is acceptable have the good spatial sense to not try to squeeze past me near the crest of a hill, rather than wait a few seconds more for a clear road?
It's easy to imagine a daydreaming designer (is there any other kind?) hurtling along a rural road at 89 kph while smugly musing: "Let's see... what say we tack on a gaudy, chromed, fake vent on the side of the [hapless vehicle on daydreaming designer's board], to break it up a smidge? ... Yeah, I could be onto something here... It can be (how long?!) long enough to... uh, uhmmmmm. Huh - looks like a bike... dang, it is. … it'll run along the beltline untillllllll, uh… shiite, oncoming car. Okay, if the cyclist doesn't veer left at all we should be… Ah-ha! That's it. Until it's lopped off by the door seams! We'll set it just in line with the door seams… don't dodge that chunk of wood, pal, I've gotta get to work to jot this down - you might become fender trim…"

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