5 Principles of Beauty in Business


An Atlantic article written in 1927 speaks eloquently about the rise and fall of the "ugliness era" that spurred out of the prioritization of efficiency during the industrial revolution. As the desire for beauty transcended mere practicality, it gave way to a fresh wave of design, showcasing, and marketing practices that still influence how brands entice consumers today.

Though beauty now plays a significant role in the way many brands position themselves, mass production, fast fashion, tasteless promotions, and ubiquitous design persist. however, classic and emerging brands that truly get it create an emotional connection that aesthetically indifferent, or incompetent, brands simply can't replicate.

The excerpts from this enduring piece presented 87 years ago collectively serve as an important and pertinent reminder for today: form and function go hand-in-hand.

1. Holistic Design

Thus it might be said that good taste passed from the advertisement to the package, and from the package to the product, keeping pace with the growing appreciation of taste on the part of the public due to increased culture and sophistication. Immediately these better-designed goods and packages demanded a better environment in which to be sold, and thus we have a revolution in the furnishing of shops and stores.

2. Irresistible Appeal

Beauty is introduced into material objects to enhance them in the eyes of the purchaser. The appeal of efficiency alone is nearly ended. Beauty is the natural and logical next step. It is in the air. When choice rests between two articles of equal utility, it veers toward the more attractive ... Moreover, in the new contest of beauty the possibilities are greater than in the contest of efficiency. In beauty the sky is the limit.

3. Progressive Values

[A]rt should reflect the age, especially an age which has introduced so many new values. The modern school of artists insists that we must have art that grows out of our life, not out of the life of a dead-and-gone era subject to influences so remote from today ... It is logical that business should prove susceptible to these new art forms, because, in a way, both are the result of the same set of causes.

4. Economic Viability

[T]here is now an economic reason for beauty. Art is indicated as a selling argument. Among other things it means that the artist is going to have a better market for the products of his imagination. Buying pictures to help the artist, or endowing art galleries in order that the public may have an opportunity to see beautiful things, is after all a makeshift. Subsidized art is of its very nature impermanent. It exits only through philanthropy. If art is the vital force in our lives that it should be, it does not need to ask favors. It does not need to depend upon charity. The only art that can survive and grow is art that is related to our life and our needs, and that has a sound economic foundation.

5. Inherent Uniqueness

It is to be hoped that manufacturers in the search for design to beautify their products will start with a clear conception of what beauty is, especially beauty in an article of use. Beauty is original. It is found in the thing itself. Good design is never imitative ... Good design is produced only by studying the article to be treated, its use, its purpose, so as to shape and color it to suggest unerringly that use and purpose. It must make the thing beautified newly significant.


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