Many years ago I was designing a website and was given a set of design guidelines that were quite interesting, shall we say. I think they were going for a Zen-like approach, in that it was a style without style, they used Arial everywhere and blue was their primary colour; it was painful to look at. I was tasked with designing the flow and UI. During one of the presentations, I was asked by the PM if I could “add a bit more design” to the interface. This upset me quite a bit quite a bit; it was as if design was being treated a bit like chocolate sprinkles, you add some on top. This approach to design happens when we are handed a brief and asked to create the outcome rather than look at the whole problem.
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