Aesthetics In Design
84 Aesthetics In Design
John Spacey, updated on March 20, 2021
An aesthetic is a means of describing the impact of art and nature on the senses. Aesthetics can be used to describe art, performance art, architecture, gardens, visual design, fashion, music, film, food, drink, product design and anything else that has artistic or creative value. The following are examples of aesthetics that can be used to plan or critique designs.
AbstractVisualizations of things that exist only as ideas.
AlgorithmicRepeated patterns that appear to be mathematical in nature such as a computer generated fractal image.
AllegoricalSuggests a meaning using an allegory.
AmbientA gentle mood and atmosphere. Also relates to light that comes from all directions that surrounds a space.
AnarchicA design that opposes conventional rules and principles.
AngularThe use of odd angles.
AsymmetricalA design that is unbalanced or unequal in some way. Not necessarily a negative quality as asymmetry can be visually appealing in many cases.
AusterePlain to the point of being harsh.
BeautifulA general term for anything that's aesthetically pleasing. Aesthetics is often defined as the philosophy of beauty.
BizarreOdd, incongruent or eccentric.
BrightIntense light or pleasant emotions.
BrutalA common term used to describe architecture that makes heavy use of exposed concrete or bricks in a functional way resulting in a stark and unfriendly appearance.
CangianteA style of painting characterized by substitution of hues when a darker or lighter version of the same hue is expected. For example, a yellow color depicted in shadow might be red instead of a darker shade of yellow.
ChiaroscuroStrong contrasts between light and dark. Chiaroscuro is typically used to describe art and films that make dramatic use of shadow.
ChromaticWorking in shades and tints of the same hue.
CleanA design that has been reduced to its necessary parts with nothing ancillary.
ClumsyA design with obvious and unintentional flaws.
ColdA logical but emotionless design.
CoolColors such as white, blue and green that tend to be perceived as cool to the touch.
ConsonanceMusic that is pleasing to the ear such as a melody.
CuteAttractive in a youthful and innocent way.
DarkThe use of black, grey and very dark colors. Also can be used to indicate a design that is gloomy or sinister.
DelicateAn intricate design with fine details.
DimensionalA design that gives the impression that it stretches into dimensions that don't physically exist in its medium. For example, a 2D drawing of a 3D object.
DissonanceMusic that is harsh and unpleasing that may be used to convey emotions such as tension, grief and conflict.
DistortedElements that have been distorted, often by computer generated effects or filters.
DramaticA suspenseful build up to something impressive or exciting.
ElegantA term for good taste. Also used for design that is pleasingly ingenious in its simplicity.
EtherealSomething that appears to be too perfect or delicate to be real.
ExaggeratedEnlarged or intensified elements such as cartoon characters with large eyes.
FeminineThemes and colors traditionally associated with women.
FlowingA smooth and continuous look or user experience.
FunctionalDesigns that prioritize function over aesthetic appeal.
FuturisticDesigns based on science fiction or original interpretations of the distant future.
GaucheUnfinished, lacking sophistication or crude.
GeidoA Japanese aesthetic that states that things that are ethical and disciplined are more attractive. Associated with martial arts and arts such as tea ceremony.
GrandMagnificent and imposing elements designed to trigger a sense of awe.
GrotesqueThings that are so ugly as to become interesting or comical.
HarmonySimultaneous sounds or design elements such as colors that match.
HotThe use of colors that are commonly perceived as hot such as red, orange and yellow.
IdiosyncraticA unique or unusual design that may represent the individual style or approach of a designer.
IkiA Japanese aesthetic that can be described as refined originality. Iki implies that original styles are most attractive when they are also cultured and disciplined.
ImprovisedCreated spontaneously without preparation.
Jo Ha KyuA Japanese aesthetic of starting an action slowly, building to an intense peak and then ending suddenly. Commonly seen in Japanese arts and martial arts. Equally common in western films and advertising.
JocularJoking, humorous or playful.
Low KeyModest and restrained designs that may be functional and pleasing to the eye without being particularly remarkable.
Ma AestheticA Japanese aesthetic that calls for large amounts of negative space in a painting or work of art. Although white space or negative space is also important to western design, there is no single word for this aesthetic in English.
MasculineColors and themes traditionally associated with men.
MechanicalThe use of straight lines and geometric shapes as opposed to hand drawn lines.
MelodicComponents that flow together so well as to be perceived as a single entity. In music, a melody is the main tune of a song that is designed to be pleasing to the ear.
MetaphoricA design primarily based on analogy or metaphor. Commonly used to describe architecture.
MinimalA design that removes everything unnecessary to its function or aesthetic.
MiyabiMiyabi is a Japanese aesthetic that is used for extremely refined and ornate designs. It is often translated elegance, or more interestingly, heart-breaker.
MockingCopying something so as to make fun of it.
MysteriousLeaving things out that have to be filled in by the imagination.
NaiveA work that exhibits childlike simplicity.
NeutralThe use of light colors such as beige and gray with little color contrast.
OrganicDesigns that look as if they were influenced by nature in some way. The term organic is also used for a hand drawn design.
PainterlyA term used to describe paintings with visible brushstrokes that are often loosely controlled with little sense of line.
PasticheA work of art that imitates a style, movement or school without mocking.
PolishedSophisticated, highly developed or completely finished.
PrimitiveUninfluenced by culture and artistic tradition.
RationalRational design decisions such as a clear ordering of elements.
RealisticDepictions that are realistic such as a portrait that includes flaws.
RefinedA general term for cultured or sophisticated works.
RhythmicA characteristic pattern that's repeated.
RusticReminiscent of the countryside or of old fashioned ways.
SanguineA type of painting using only red paint that resembles rust or dried blood.
SaturatedUse of color that is intense and bright.
SfumatoA style of art that is soft, vague and blurred often with the use of shadows. The painting known as Mona Lisa is a commonly cited example.
ShibuiA Japanese aesthetic that might be described as subtle and unobtrusive beauty.
SophisticatedComplex designs that may incorporate aspects such as culture, logic and emotion.
StylizedA distinctive appearance associated with a designer, technique, culture, school, movement or period.
SublimeA term that implies something has reached the peak of aesthetic perfection.
SurrealUnusual and dreamlike.
SymmetricalEqual and balanced.
SymphonicSurrounding, rich and full.
SyntheticA design that appears manufactured or generated by technology. Synthetic music, or synth, relates to the use of keyboards and other electronic music devices.
TenebrosoA style of art characterized by dramatic illumination often contrasted with dark and shadow.
TexturedA design with many layers.
TurbulentUnpredictable and unsettling.
UnifiedA sense of oneness to a design.
Wabi SabiA Japanese aesthetic that might be compared to the western concept of rustic. Celebrates imperfection such as inexpensive materials, unique flaws and irregular shapes.
AestheticsThis is the complete list of articles we have written about aesthetics.
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