The New Ugly

Stretched type, day-glo colours and a flagrant disregard for the rules: are we witnessing a knee-jerk reaction to the slick sameness of so much design or a genuine cultural shift?

In the early 90s, the mother of all rows blew up between, on the one hand, the traditionalist school of American designers led by Massimo Vignelli and, in defiant opposition, the avant garde of Emigre and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. The catalyst was an essay in Eye magazine by Steven Heller entitled Cult of the Ugly, in which the world’s most prolific design writer took Cranbrook and its students to task over, as he saw it, their gratuitously ugly output. Well now, it seems, ugly is back.

This article was first published online at the CR Blog. To read the rest of it, and the ensuing debate, please go here

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