the instagram account sourcing the ugliest designs the internet has to offer
From hairy chested swimming costumes to sanitary towel shaped lilos, @uglydesign is the only account you need to follow
Image via Instagram
Like all best buds, Jonas and Sébastien love joking around, only they’ve graduated from amateurish pranks and are now focused on a typically millennial way of getting a rise out of each other: a shared Insta account dedicated to spotlighting the ugliest designs the internet has to offer.
It all started back in 2013, after the pair, who met while studying design in Switzerland, came across a bathtub that had been reimagined as a sofa, at an international furniture fair in Milan. This then triggered a competition of who could come up with the ugliest design. Where previously the winner was determined via the reaction of the other, they now have 130,000 followers to decide.
“It’s all about ugliness,” they tell i-D. “We want to share an alternative aesthetic, something different from most Instagram design curators who more or less post the same content. We look for ugly designs in fashion, furniture, decoration, widgets, and architecture. From unnecessary details and design fails to strange proportions and weird shapes. Anything inspired by animals, human parts, or famous monuments. The uglier the better.” They’re not kidding. A quick scroll on their Insta and you’ll find everything from toilets with teeth to ear shaped earrings, bags made out of briefs to thongs for toes.
Traveling the world’s online superhighways, they’ve found the internet to be saturated with images of ugliness: Google, Reddit, Behance, Architonic, Tumblr, and Instagram, even receiving a DM or two from their followers. But beyond merely sourcing images, the pair’s search for ugliness has them questioning the very notion of what it means for a design to be ugly.
“In the beginning we considered ugliness in design as a negative phenomenon and were trying to highlight designs that we were taught to think of as bad,” says Jonas. “Slowly we started to see a lot of nuances in this ugly aesthetic and we no longer consider ugly as negative or pejorative.”
Though they share a penchant for unsavory design, Jonas and Sébastien’s approach to caption writing couldn’t be more different. Where Sébastien is spontaneous, Jonas finds it difficult to find the words he is looking for. “I don't always come up with something. I’m a bit like George Costanza in Seinfeld, I have late comeback, so I write down everything funny in a notebook. It sometimes takes weeks before I find the right image to match it with. It can be quite random. Some of the captions are inside jokes for my sister. People usually find it funny for other reasons. Two birds with one stone!”
So, where is this all going? “I secretly hope Balenciaga will offer us some Triple-S,” says Jonas. “For sure not more Tinder matches,” jokes Sébastien. As for their viewers? A daily dose of inspiration. “The next step is to step out of Instagram,” they say on a more serious note. “We are working on a few projects which we can’t yet talk about but the idea is to do art direction as Ugly Design. Curate shows, conceptualize and build scenographies, events, school workshops. We are also currently in the process of editing a book.”
Here they pick their top five ugliest posts of all time.
"What does the pool boy say? This swimming costume, alluringly called 'Sexy Chest One Piece Swimsuit,' is digitally printed with the torso of a hairy male. At the time we found it, we were focusing only on product design. But when we saw it, we knew we had to include fashion in our feed."
"Soaks the entire ocean. The Aquaria Pasadena Pool Float has been around for a few years. It is described by the company producing it as having “a fun marbleized design, luxuriously soft, durable, and Made in the USA.” Guess they didn’t see any resemblance to an existing product…"
"Time for a toilet break. Perfect for camping; toilet paper earrings on gold plated posts, handmade to order."
"Shrimps on the barbie (and around your neck?). Whether you grill or fry, shrimps are the bomb. Why not use one as a cushion?"
"The poorman's Aquaman. We love these webbed hands. Could be the next step in human evolution. Just imagine how much you would improve your swimming speed. #cheapmutant."
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.