Good Taste vs. Good Design: A Tug of War in the Light of Bling

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Some products are considered to be 'bad taste' and therefore of less value. However, if we focus on what a product does to and for its users, rather than on what a product is, we can disregard superficial statements based on taste, and instead reach a better understanding of design. This reasoning is based on the relationship between 'good taste' and 'good design', terms which are sometimes confused and treated as synonyms. In this paper we explore the tension between 'good taste' and 'good design', and how designers can use that tension in the design process. We consider 'good taste' to be rooted in a subjective context of inherent values, whereas 'good design' arises from competence and is based on professional skill. 'Bad taste' is here exemplified by products associated with the lifestyles of rap artists and the subculture of bling. Inspired by de Bono's PO (1972, 1973) we created a thought-provoking brief for a design workshop for students. In the context of a course on trends, industrial design students were given the task of exploring how bling products are perceived in everyday life and proposing future bling scenarios. Their views on bling were compatible with how bling is presented in the media. However, when the students began to consider what the product does rather than what it is, they were able to use bling as a source of creativity for their own bling projects. What other design opportunities are overlooked by regarding products as being 'bad taste'?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-202
JournalThe Design Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Design

Free keywords

  • product design
  • taste
  • value
  • provocation
  • bling


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