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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The painting "The Young Ladies of Avignon" by Picasso was initially scorned but is now considered to be seminal to the development of cubism. The dissonance and complex rhythm structures of Stravinsky’s ballet music "The Rite of Spring" caused a scandal when it premiered, but the composition now ranks among the most important musical works of the twentieth century.

While art was allowed to be ugly, design had to function. Although for hundreds of years new artistic styles were established through aesthetic upheaval, new trends in graphic design and visual communication were, until recently, variations on what was generally considered to be appealing. But in the last few years, those working in these creative disciplines started to rebel. Dada-esque graphics or unreadable typography began to be used as a way to claim a unique style advantage.

"Pretty Ugly" is a diverse collection of these recent aesthetic, methodological and conceptual rampages not only in the fields of graphic design and visual communication, but also in product design, fashion design, art, and photography. The originators of this work consciously use unusual or negatively perceived forms, colors, and perspectives or transgresive process in an attempt to blaze new creative trails.

The variety of examples in "Pretty Ugly" may still be considered by some to be ugly, but they are already influencing the vanguard of tomorrow’s design.

Client: Gestalten
Year: 2012

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