Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Written by Yaron Schoen January 23, 2013

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My mom always told me to never say never. That was probably the best advice I’ve ever received. It helped me in making many decisions in life when it comes to my career, my relationships and pretty much anything else. To me what that advise really means is not to believe in absolutes. Yes, I see the paradox – the advise in itself is an absolute. But that is truly the only absolute I live by – Never say never.

Because I am not an absolutist, it has always been a problem for me to actually describe my aesthetic style when asked. Today it is one style, tomorrow it might be another. The simplest, most honest answer I can provide is that I enjoy making beautiful things. I started designing mainly because I wanted the world around me to be beautiful. Sure, I enjoy solving problems, but that is only one aspect of what makes something beautiful. Clearly without function, form is pointless. But a beautiful and timeless product has both an elegant solution and an elegant aesthetic, it rarely ever is one or the other. For example, the problem of sitting comfortably was solved already, what makes the Eames chair iconic is its timeless beauty and its comfortableness.

But what is beautiful you may ask? Well, my point of view depends on which Yaron you ask. If you ask today’s Yaron I’d say beauty lies in subtraction, removing all seemingly unnecessary elements and letting the ones that are necessary shine and tell their own story. An environment so clean of elements that the ones left create a laser sharp focus leaving no room for imagination. If you ask Yaron of a few years ago, he’d answer that beauty lies in the ornamentation that creates the story around you. Such beautiful ornamentation that while using something you get swept into an imaginary world created especially for the product’s experience.

Is there a right or wrong in both instances? No. There are many ways to achieve or interpret beauty, it's not an absolute science. If it were we'd all be out of a job and life would be pretty boring. Beauty is instinct related and is usually all consuming. When you see or use something beautiful you just know it, and you get immersed in the experience. You could care less what trends or techniques were used to create the design. It just works.

As a designer, the phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" takes on a whole new meaning. This is beautiful, but so is this. Both designs achieve their goals successfully, and immerse their users in a unique experience. The trick is to realize what aesthetic your user relates to better, because if you don't you may end up with something beautiful that doesn't speak to your target audience. Perhaps something like this. I never say never to any one style or technique when approaching a design, because there are so many ways of achieving beauty, and so many sub-cultures that relate to different types of beauty. I strive to achieve beauty at whatever cost, even if I need to use skeuomorphism *shivers*.

The haunting fact is that because beauty is a subjective thing, my job as a designer, in essence, will never end. I will always strive to create beauty in its purest form, thus speaking to all audiences, but I will always inevitably fail. But with each step I take, I get closer to it's purest state. With each step I need to remember not to hold prejudice to any idea, concept, style or form. Never say never. Hopefully this trick will take me one step closer on the never ending road to the promised land of beauty.


Written in New York. © 2013