The Appeal of Aggressively Ugly Design

Because I moved this weekend—and am exhausted, and have been redecorating—a brief ode to the appeal of ugly design.

Anyone who knows me already knows that I like a loud aesthetic: bright colors, loud patterns, power clashing, anything Memphis. But lately, my tastes have been trending even more towards the ugly side than usual.

Ugly design expresses confidence. You have to be secure in your tastes to pull off something ugly, to go against the grain of what’s conventionally considered pleasing. Ugly design may be offputting, but it isn’t random; it’s a considered form of offputting. You have to know the rules to break them well.

Ugly design is rebellious. Forget what society tells you goes together or looks classy. We’ll start our own society, where left is right and garish is tasteful.

Ugly design is openly attention-seeking, and it isn’t ashamed of it. Swiss minimalism and mid-century modern pretend they don’t want to be noticed, but they secretly spent hours in the mirror that morning getting ready. Ugly design isn’t afraid to scream, “look at me!”

Ugly design definitely isn’t ironic, but it isn’t definitively not ironic either. Ugly design defies the very concept of irony. Ugly design is simultaneously deeply nihilistic and overwhelmingly joyful.

I’ll leave you with a glimpse at some of the furniture I would buy if I was a millionaire.

This color block sofa:

This crystal coffee table:

This entire Memphis living room:

This incredible hot dog sofa (only £6,000!):

Yours in promising I’ll get back to the “real” writing next week,

Max