When High Design Doesn’t Align


Ultra recently wrote an article for The Dieline exploring the dichotomy of high design versus pragmatic design. It underscores how pragmatic design can play an essential role but feels, to many designers, like bad design because it isn’t on trend or lacks sophistication. The tension with this is its quick dismissal of design’s role to communicate to a consumer, versus convey a designer’s personal aesthetic preference.While this topic is not new or revelatory, the election revived the topic and questioned advertising’s use of aspirational visuals. If the election revealed a large group of people who felt left behind by and largely out of step with a progressive, urban mindset, then any form of advertising widely depicting urban, upscale lifestyles likely doesn’t resonate.A quick glance around the package design world shows a preference toward an upscale, premium aesthetic that is largely idealized. Instead of looking at package design as high design or bad design, could we forge a new visual aesthetic that takes aspiration out, but is still good design?