It is not all subjective
My Ann Arbor beer buddy, and retired University of Michigan Professor, Charles Butter, PhD recently launched “Crossing Cultural Borders: Universals in Art and Their Biological Roots.” But don’t let the academic titles deter you. Charlie’s book is as accessible as a Corona on Cinco de Mayo: easy to digest, fun, and some nice twists.
The book talks art, but everything is applicable to design: what we prefer and why. He talks about balance, emotions, and ornamentation—my favorite. Charlie explains why the mind prefers variety in unity, which is to say we are attracted to what we know and like, but there has to be enough variation to keep us interested.
• Big objects to small ones
• Round forms to sharp ones
• Prototypes as the most attractive, but “average” examples can easily bore us, which gets back to Charlie’s “variety in unity.”
• More novelty within an area of expertise–less so with nonspecialists (an argument for knowing your audiences)
• Looks…at the beginning, but visual appeal is less important after a month of ownership. This is a reminder for businesses to play up the non-visual aspects of their products to help combat buyer’s remorse, or a consumers doubts after a purchase.
All of this is to say the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it is not as subjective as we might think, or want, it to be.