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Thoughts on Decoration

I hate nose piercings, and I'll tell you why. (If you have a pierced nose, I apologize in advance.) The nose, unlike almost every other aspect of the face, is purely functional. No one ever describes someone as having a really beautiful nose. "The rest of her face was so-so, but her nose was gorgeous!" Nope, doesn't happen. Eyes and mouth, yes. Nose, no. We only notice noses when they are ugly or disproportionate or when they are decorated with a piercing.

I've always held the notion that decoration should enhance the best parts of something. Crown molding to emphasize a high ceiling. Inlays to show off a wooden floor. Mascara to highlight the eyes and blush for the cheekbones. Tattoos and piercings on a fetching body part. Why draw attention to a plain or ugly feature? (And lest you think I've forgotten about earrings, my theory there is that they aren't there to decorate the ear (unless they are up high), but rather to emphasize and lengthen the neck.)

I think this principle applies to products as well. Although the trend these days is simple minimalism, if you have a sexy feature, why not decorate it to make it stand out? Does this make eye candy? Yes, but it can also make Delight for the user. Minimalism done poorly can produce some pretty flat, boring designs. I, for one, am really tired of the now-ubiquitious three-column blog-style layouts that are everywhere on the web. There's no decoration--everything is the same, bland. Nothing is really ugly, but nothing is very sexy or delightful either. I almost long for the days of more experimentation with crazy Flash layouts and such. Sure, there were some ugly sites made that way, but there were also some neat, radical things as well. With the advent of Ajax and new desktop widgets, there's never been a better time to break out of this homogeny.

Let's all pull those nose piercings out, shall we, and put decoration in its appropriate places.

Originally posted at Wednesday, May 31, 2006 | Comments (2)

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