What is bad, and what is bad design?


We talked about good work in the last post, but what are we addressing on the other end of the spectrum here? 

On my first day of college as a young undergraduate art student, i was told to “let go of the notion of good and bad, beautiful and ugly. That is not how we describe art here.” and that was really something that moved me. Flash forward to four years aftwerwards, when i came to NID, objects, concepts and notions were introduced to me as ‘good design’. Ideally, something that is functional, contextually appropriate, and aesthetically sound. Over the next to years, some of these notions were expanded upon, contradicted, and contested, and I understood that while there is no singular right answer in design, there can be multiple relevant ones, and that’s where some of the goodness in good design comes in.

Later i picked up books by Ruben Pater, Lucienne Roberts and Mike Monteiro to understand the other side of good design. Good intentions (and by corollary, good execution).

So while bad art is debatable, bad design is, on a super idealistic level, not so much. There is a quantifiable measure to design’s impact on the individual’s life, the environment, to society, to popular culture, and to all sorts of discourses on each of these levels. And on those grounds, Roberts, Monteiro and others define where the fallacies of design being neutral lie.

So while Comic Sans and Papyrus are not bad design, to the best of my understanding, Uber consciously developing Project Greyball, or Facebook using its Social Graph to empower politics of the far-right are bad. And design is involved on multiple levels there.

My bad, your bad. We are all bad here.

What do other people have to say about this?