Good Design Has Utility
Article by: Tucker Vienmeister
Pages 144-146


Tucker Vienmeister defines design as creating beauty and fulfilling destiny as humans to make things better. Vienmeister uses the term “Beautility”, a combination between beauty and utility as a means of “moving beauty away from the frivolous”[1] , to address this notion of design. Veinmeister argues that improving the environment drives human progress and that design is a premeditated action. Thus, a designer must have a conscious understanding of what goes into a design.


Vienmeister explains that Beautility, is a way of reinforcing the idea that beauty has meaning or a purpose. Beauty is often something that can stimulate audiences emotionally, intellectually, and sensually, as explained by Chase A. Rogers' "Healing with Design". It is through this purpose that the design can also have consequences in the environment in which it exists. This persisting theme of designer accountability creates unity within the book’s overall theme of design citizenship and social responsibility.
apple-imac.jpgThe first criteria for Beautility, and good design, is that with greater convenience comes greater challenge to “sync up usability”[2] .Vienmeister goes on to use Maslow’s Hierarchy as a means of explaining that “making beauty is the ultimate experience” [3] . This would equate design creation to Maslow's self-actualization. However, Vienmeister remodels Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs to:

1. Base level- of living
2. Convenience level- “comfortable living”
3. Fun
4. Beauty

The level of beauty primarily enhances the viewer’s perception of seeing, feeling, and contemplating. In short, according to Vienmeister, Beauty is satisfying. This generalization does not take into account that design creation and consumption is unique to each individual experience. The results may vary depending on the individual.

The way a design can be both utilitarian (having a designed purpose) and visually pleasing requires designers to stretch their boundaries. Designers can keep in mind good principles for design as while as understanding the design's purpose. This can be seen in the design of the Apple iMac which utilized aesthetically pleasing design elements while understanding the need for user functionality.


The concept of Beautility is not a new one. Many different designers, as a modern trend, try to reach for environmental uses for their art. In green-forward countries such as Denmark, environmentally friendly designs are held to a higher esteem. These design values are culturally defined and influenced. Design, in and of itself, can be a cultural lens through which people each find different interpretations, an idea expanded upon by Anne Bush. Finding beauty in design is a task taken on individually.

The problems with Vienmeister’s definition is that a design’s purpose is often left to audience interpretation and the term “better” is a relative term to culture and to the individual. There can always be unforeseen consequences within a design’s creation and reception which a designer could not have predicted.

However, Vienmeister's overall message, that to succeed at design the designer must learn about lifestyle consequences and understand a design’s social purpose of sustaining a healthy plant, is well understood and exemplified in the article.


Viemeister, Tucker (2003). "’Beautility’", Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne, Citizen Designer.
  1. ^ Veinmeister 2003, p. 145.
  2. ^ Veinmeister 2003, p. 146.
  3. ^ Veinmeister 2003, p. 145.