Judgements of beauty are very commonplace in design processes. But the dominance of the “form follows function” approach in design has led to a neglect of aesthetic theory. We want to check if aesthetic theory can inform our design practice. Another important aspect is to better understand our own aesthetic biases because we mostly design for someone else with a very different taste!
It is often difficult to say, why do we like things that we like. It is a highly subjective matter. Following Kant, and adding Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of “distinction” we make our way by sorting out:
People often like stuff that shows they are intelligent, rich, up to date etc. And this is often confused with the pleasure of “beauty”!
We often fall in love with the stuff around us because it is so practical. Also, this is not pleasure in “beauty”.
Now this is a tricky and still contested concept of Kant. But we as designers can connect with it easily! Think of any layout or composition you did. Beyond the very design task of communication you might always strive for some kind of balance. So – at least you :) – find pleasure in “balance”. This “beauty” is dependent of the content. Such dependent beauty is often favored in graphic design education against “decoration”.
This is the real “beauty”! We find pleasure in it just so! Again, this can be anything. In graphic design this happens a lot, albeit we feel it does not communicate much. But then we should not forget that our audience can relate to a free beauty when serve their taste.
Usually, books are a distinctive sign of education. But we checked and found out that the style of the hands and its movement adds humour and goofiness to this design. Since they make the book something “easy”, we could say that there are no distinctive aspects here.
As an advertising it communicates quite clearly. Only the book and the hand animation are in contradiction (fun with books – see in the semiosis chapter) This playfulness is definitely not something “practical”. Or is it? It somehow contributes to the idea of “life improvement is easy”.
The hand points the book so it makes the viewer look at it. Also the movement of hands make the book more interesting and not too serious. This approach blurs the line between high and low culture. So, we could say, we have a dependent beauty here!
In the semiosis chapter we found out that even the yellow background is taking part in meaning making (the idea of easyness). Because of this, we can conclude: no free beauty here!
Now, we can make up a mood board of our aesthetic preferences, and one of a possible audience to check if the graphic design connects with our taste.