When Putting Beauty Over Design

An article by David Brooks on October 6, 2014


My daughter has this cup, it’s cute. She picked it out in the store a few months ago and it seemed a pretty decent choice at the time.

1. It had a screw-on top
2. It had handles
3. She loved it.

The problem with the cup wasn’t apparent in the store, but it reared its ugly head the minute we tried to put milk in it.

The handles actually interfere with sealing the cup.

What could be wrong with that? Well, if you hold the cup by the handles, the weight of the liquid pulls the cup away from the head, dropping the entire bottle of liquid onto the ground.

By definition, it does the exact opposite thing you expect from a cup. It might as well have a giant hole in it that you just pour your drink right onto the ground.

The only way to secure it is by threading the top perfectly, and then never turning the handles. If you do, the threads come apart and the cup drops. That means that I could use it, but it’s not suitable for use by kids, the very group it exists to please.

But isn’t this a classic example of beauty over design? It’s aesthetically cute, but it’s a terrible cup. So in actuality, the problem that it really solved was how to sell a cute cup, not to be a cup. While that made the company $2.00, I’d certainly not buy another one of those cups. Since I’m writing this, I hope you won’t either.

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

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