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Guest csven

Ugly But Successful Products

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Guest csven

From the object-as-commercial product standpoint, success is defined by business; and the reason Industrial Designers aren't usually in C-level positions is because - and this should come as no surprise to anyone here - ID isn't considered especially important to most business people. Now on most ID-centric forums there are plenty of threads and comments discussing how nice "aesthetics" (as opposed to "design") are important and supposedly responsible for a product's success. Fair enough. But the truth is, if all the ugly products of the world (and there are many) were not meeting the needs of the businesses selling them, there would be more VP's of Industrial Design in the world.

 

So to acknowledge reality and keep us all grounded, I thought an "Ugly but Successful Product" list would be appropriate. Feel free to add your own and provide image links when possible.

 

(And note: you don't have to believe something is ugly. It's enough if you constantly hear from other people that a product is ugly.)

 

-

 

Amazon Kindle - some people call it "the Pontiac Aztek of e-readers".

 

Dyson Vacuum

 

{Edit: removed VW mini-bus}

{Edit: removed Citroen DS}

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Guest michaelAtSPG

The Citroen and the VW!? Say it aint so! The VW in particular was perfectly

suited to its "design age". Look at the streamlining, man!

 

OK, to each his own. But I doubt *anyone* will disagree with me on this one:

 

Crocs

 

(I think these are injection molded shoes, at least the ones

I've seen seem to be)

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Guest csven
The Citroen and the VW!? Say it aint so! The VW in particular was perfectly

suited to its "design age". Look at the streamlining, man!

 

I have to say I'm a longtime fan of the Citroen, but every time I said I liked it, people would say "Gawd that's ugly." And I'd have to kind of agree, but I still liked the look for some reason.

 

Here's a whole market segment:

 

Mop Buckets

 

I've designed one, but I wasn't allowed to pull slides. So it's open 'n shut except for some pins. And they didn't add the bumpers I'd included. And I found the Design Patent last night ... my name isn't on it.

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Guest Nephtis

Nice thread, can't think of something right now but I like the idea except for the Countach.

 

But one thing, agree with michaelAtSPG, the VW and Citroen aren't ugly. If you say that the general consensus determines the fact if it is ugly, these two don't belong. At the time, the VW and Citroen were considered beautifull, especially the VW. I think it differs per continent, in europe, these were beautifull cars. Although I can see that the Citroen is an aquired taste.....

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Guest csven
If you say that the general consensus determines the fact if it is ugly, these two don't belong. At the time, the VW and Citroen were considered beautifull, especially the VW. I think it differs per continent, in europe, these were beautifull cars. Although I can see that the Citroen is an aquired taste.....
Point taken. I'll pull the VW. But as I was in Europe in the 60's and heard plenty of Germans (as well as Americans living there) say the Citroen was ugly, I'll keep that one as compromise. Besides, it occurs to me that there are some 70's era Japanese cars that are worth consideration. Such as:

 

Toyota Corolla E30

 

-

 

Also, the original Nintendo Entertainment System

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Guest michaelAtSPG

Wow, this is tougher than I thought. You keep mentioning designs that I like in at least some regard. NES in particular was (again) emblematic of that early 1980's design, form-wise as iconic as the sounds of the Yamaha DX7 was to the music of the time. What next, the BMW 2002 branded as ugly too? (laughing here)

 

One problem I see is that if a product has a strong design gene, even if it's ugly it can be appreciated, especially by designers and (more subliminally) by the populace at large.

 

To truly be miserable, the product would have to have "no" design, or be a badly cobbled-together ripoff of other designs.

 

OK, how about this:

 

Ford K car

 

I guess I'm looking for something we could all agree "that's horrible" yet was a great corporate success. [tempted to say MS Windows but this is more for physical products it seems]

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Guest csven

As mentioned, some of these "ugly" things I like. I wouldn't have listed the Kindle except for the fact that I hear people constantly saying how ugly it is (though they also seem to really like using the device). So I'm trying to remove my personal feelings and recall how other people were reacting to the product.

 

Meanwhile, the difference between the NES and the Yamaha DX7 is that one still looks great today ... and provides a good comparison for what else was done in 1983.

 

As to the BMW 2002, I remember plenty of people liking the looks of that car; it was unusual, but it had that desirable European character (and was usually owned by someone with money). In contrast, I remember people buying a Corolla and then making excuses for owning one ("I only bought this cuz of the oil crises"). Worth note, I recall the first time I heard someone being proud of owning a Japanese car in the same way people owned Detroit muscle cars and European luxury sedans. It was an early Supra, and there's probably a good case for its aesthetics significantly affecting public perception across/acceptance of Japanese imports in general.

 

I was, however, wondering when the Chrysler K-car would get listed.

 

-

 

And I don't see any reason this should be limited to physical appearance. Bring on the ugly interfaces.

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Anything sold on infomercials I especially think of Urine Gone

urine_enlarge.gif

 

F117 Stealth while I think an excellent design is not particularly "aesthetic"

f117.jpg

 

Satellite dishes.

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Guest michaelAtSPG

Ahh, the F-117...perfect case for the nonintuitive version of "form follows function".

 

I think military stuff, for the greater part, may not follow the same logics as the

ugly-but-popular consumer items, because they are not subject to the same

market/buying pressures.

 

Although, on second thought, I've seen a few articles on how a not-insignificant

amount of effort is put into the styling of weapons systems, I suppose to

make them seem more "aggressive". (This explains why we don't see stealth

bombers that look like Hello Kitty. Well, maybe there's an aerodynamic element

as well.)

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Guest riege_st

actually the the F117 is a perfect example for form follows function

- it was built to be as unrecotnisible for rada as possible, there fore they had to place triangles in a certain degree, so that incoming rays don't repell that strong(new materials helped of course) - this is how the "form" was created

aerodynamically the F117 pretty bad, because they only focused on the stealth part

 

so to speak, military equipment = form follows function - because the outside is reduced to its core function

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Guest csven

Yeah. F-117 wasn't what I had in mind when I said "commercial". And its form was definitely a result of meeting functional requirements. But what is interesting is how that faceted, polygonal look has become more acceptable over the years. Where once this was undoubtedly ugly, it looks much less so today.

 

-

 

I intend to spend more time considering the kinds of products IDers don't often discuss; like the mop buckets. If nothing else, those kinds of examples make for good student exploration as opposed to yet another shoe or yet another MP3 player.

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Guest michaelAtSPG
actually the the F117 is a perfect example for form follows function

[snip...]

 

Yes, yes, i know i know...I always say "form follows function...but what's the function?".

In this case it's not immediately intuitive, and that's why it's the perfect example of

those objects whose form both a) follows function, and :) does not appear to be rational.

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Guest michaelAtSPG
...

I intend to spend more time considering the kinds of products IDers don't often discuss; like the mop buckets. If nothing else, those kinds of examples make for good student exploration as opposed to yet another shoe or yet another MP3 player.

 

Great idea. I saw somewhere on Grcic's website he says that he's very proud of a bucket design he

did early on, having seen it in use years later.

 

The ipod's great and all, but imagine the market for buckets! If I could make

each worker's task .1% easier due to a bucket design, I'd die a happy man. Or

if you could make the manufacturing process .1% more efficient, etc.

 

I'm sure it's one of the top-10 products needed in Myanmar and China right now,

and probably one of the most basically-needed tools in all history:

carrying water, waste, building material and debris, as a temporary chair, a

place to wash things, cook them (if it's metal), mix cement, carry food & goods, as a

stepstool, and so on.

 

It definitely makes any styling harder to accomplish, it's so constrained by

the task.

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Guest Mr-914

I think the Citroën may only be considered ugly in NA. I've often read that it is considered a beautiful vehicle in European journals. I'm assuming we are discussing the DS here, and not the 2CV.

 

A product we mentioned on Core was the line of Hitachi electric power tools with a kind of biker tattoo aesthetic. Apparently it is highly successful.

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