Is ‘bad taste’ often used humorously or ironically?

In my opinion this nose soap dispenser which represents mucus coming out your nose (shown below in figure 8) might be described as a ‘humorous’ design to some tastes but it also would be considered as ‘distasteful’ to others. This design wasn’t created to be subtle; it was designed to stand out and cause a reaction in its contemporary style. A design like this is unique and not commonplace which might explain the mixed opinions about this ‘humorous’ style of design. This design (shown below in figure 8) can be considered as good taste to some interior designers and also bad taste to others; which I am going to discuss…


Figure 8: (Anon 11, no date)

This style of design can be seen as ‘light hearted fun’ to some designers/non designers and its obvious intentions were to be ‘humorous’. This nose dispenser was described as an amusing bathroom accessory that puts some fun into a bathing space (Anon 11, no date). This shows that this design is very humorous to some interior designers and not so much to others…

Graham suggests that when a design lacks humour it is difficult to call it a good design. (Graham, 2002). This suggests that humour in design is essential. The ‘distasteful’ nature of this design can be seen as a positive element to some and this type of design appears to play a big role in design. Baley (p78 1983) suggests that “In order to make a product a commercial success it is essential to make it offensive in design terms”. This shows that a design which is deemed as ‘offensive’ can make a design more popular and successful. I would say that a good design is something which is popular and it appears that many humorous designs accomplish popularity.

When I watched the BBC television program ‘Your Home in Their Hands’ (see video 2 at 1 minute 20 seconds) an amateur interior designer had the chance to decorate a space for a naive client. The designer used an incredible amount of prints and bold colours (see figure 9) which created an incredibly flamboyant design which was very extravagant. It wasn’t meant to be subtle in anyway. The clients reaction to that space was totally against the design and didn’t see the beauty of it or its humour and fun. This is the type of reaction which is quite commonplace with this type of design. This style of design can be considered as ‘distasteful’. The designer based the design on their style and personal preference but it didn’t suit the clients taste in any way. Heritage (2014) suggested that the unexpected nature from the designers on this show are outdated and he suggested that “times have changed. Tastes have moved on.” This suggests that humorous tastes are out of fashion. (Heritage, 2014)

Video 2 (Anon 13, 2014)


Figure 9 (Heritage, 2014)

This concludes that the humourous nature of this design will always appeal to some tastes but not so much to others. This type of taste is a personal preference and there appears to be no right or wrong answer.


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