Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder: 40+ Designs That Straddle The Border Between Tacky And Tasteful

By Sachin P February 27, 2022

Nothing could be more attractive than that of an unattractive item! Although this may seem paradoxical, you may eventually notice that perfection is uninteresting, and so it is imperfections that really can captivate our imagination in a much more meaningful and satisfying manner. The Ugly Design Instagram initiative (@uglydesign), which was established in 2013 by Swiss designer phenoms Jonas Nyffenegger with Sébastien Mathys, has now earned over the affections of close to 712k amazing admirers. But they can’t wait to read their most recent writings on design choices that defy convention and dive headfirst into what might be generally thought of as bad design. Scroll down at your leisure to see some of the best (or, should we say, worst) new designs.

All images in this article are courtesy of @uglydesign on Instagram.

Who thought ZIT was a good idea?

Pimples. A teenager’s worst nightmare. Believe us when we say this because no matter what we used, there was no escaping the acne, pimples, or zits. At least once in your life, you have suffered from a pimple at the worst possible time.

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Who wants to go to prom with a big zit, right on your face? Man, that was a horror show. So, bearing that in mind, what on earth prompted this design? Who would choose to have a big pimple on their face? It’s honestly baffling.

Michael Phelps’s bedroom

Look, we’ll be frank with you here. The zit earrings were in bad taste. But this, this we kind of like. To be perfectly honest with you all, that is. We wouldn’t mind having these sheets on our beds. It would make jumping into the bed feel like jumping into the pool.

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Plus, they managed to get the texture right. The best thing we have to point out is that they look comfortable. That’s what should matter at the end. The swim cap and goggles, however, look less comfortable. What do you think?

Chihuahua brand

Pareidolia is the phenomenon of seeing everyday things or themes in totally arbitrary or irrelevant items or sequences. It is a type of apophenia, a much more generic word describing the human predisposition to identify patterns in totally random data.

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It happens with everyone now and then, which is the same thing happening here with the jacket this lady is wearing and her necklace. The outer pattern of the lapel, coupled with the white blouse and the necklace, gives the impression of a chihuahua.

Butt what seems to be the problem here?

Ahh, an innocent-looking cookie cutter. No, we’re not talking about the shark but the mold. There’s a cookie-cutter shark? Yeah, there is! It is called such because the bite marks it leaves on prey look like they were made from a cookie-cutter.

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Okay, enough distractions for now. Let us get to the matter at hand here. It kind of looks like a tulip, doesn’t it? Well, we can’t believe we said that from these tulips because the mold is of a cat’s butt! Talk about being at the butt end of a joke!

Commode-ity or Luxury?

Just see it from the chicken’s point of view. What the chicken wants to do is just get out of the coop. The toilet lid, although unsightly, facilitates that need. And if a chicken door is what they need, then a chicken door is what they should get.

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Marlon Brando was once asked at an acting class to act like a chicken who’s about to be bombed. While other students acted like panicked chickens, Marlon sat calmly. His response was, “I’m a chicken, what do I know about bombs?” Same theory here.

Garfield’s nightmare

A cat that likes lasagna — well, that’s Garfield for you. His love for lasagna slightly precedes his love for making Jon irritated as possible. We all know that Jon loves this mischievous furball, no matter what curveball the cat throws at him.

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But this, this will be a total nightmare for a cat like Garfield — this is a burnt lasagna. Or is it? Wait! is this supposed to simulate lava? Dang, some people take the floor is lava challenge to the next level!

What in the name of..?

Slides are one of our favorite childhood memories. However, it was also a painful experience when the playground got too hot. Then it was like sliding on a hot griddle. Man, that was scorching hot. But we still rode on it.

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But this, this defies all sensible explanation. So we have parallel bars like an inclined monkey bar setup, followed by about two feet of the slide. So what is it? Is this a monkey bar or a slide? Better make up your mind!

The heck is this?

Yeah, Mr. Fantastic called. He wants his pants back! Doesn’t this guy know that it is rude to keep something someone lent you? You have every right to look fly as possible but make sure to give back what isn’t yours.

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Look. Fashion is something that is interpreted by the onlooker. But these pants are just flat out a bad design. He looks like he fell from a cliff like Wile. E. Coyote and got his entire lower half scrunched like an accordion.

Wonder Woman Lite

Remember that particular scene in Wonder Woman (2017) where Diana goes to a ball? She infiltrates the ball to kill the German general Ludendorff. So, she conveniently conceals her sword in the back of her dress. The first thing on our minds was: femme fatale.

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But why did we bring it up, you ask? Well, apart from both dresses being blue, they both have a solid line on the back of the dress — in this case, it’s a miscolored zipper. Instead of an invisible zipper that blends in, the designer used a thick, mismatched one.

Hand bag

Quite the handy looking thing, isn’t it? We think that the designer took a very hands-on approach when this was conceived. Just look at it. Some of you might think that things went a bit out of hand when you saw this.

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We must hand it to him on the fact that, hands down, this is one of the most unique design initiatives ever conceived. If you feel lonely, just grab your handbag. It’s never gonna give you up or let you down.

Bruh, what?

Who in their right mind would wear these as sunglasses? This is just taking the designer craze a bit too far, in our opinion. Apart from the aesthetic, the product has no value whatsoever. It barely covers one of his eyes!

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And we are pretty sure that you have to spend a pretty penny to get these, too. That’s the toll of the designer aesthetic. Aren’t sunglasses supposed to protect your eyes from the sun’s glare? We can’t see this doing that.

Man Door Car Doll Gear Hand

What in the name of all things that should make a semblance of sense is this monstrosity? If anyone was to look into this car through the window, they would be in for quite a shock. Man, that looks ghastly.

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Here’s a person who sees a doll arm as a sleeve for the gear. To be quite frank, everything about the interior of this machine is terrible. Just look at the state of the dials and the steering wheel in question.

Pictures that make you go hmmm…

It took us a while to decipher this image; not going to lie there. These folks really had us in the first half, see. Texas is known for its hunting, so we were scrambling our heads to figure out what this really is.

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Turns out, in the most Texan way possible, that this is a rotisserie chicken. Yeah, a metal cast of a rotisserie chicken is the emblem on this car, right here. Guess the truth is always stranger than fiction, and this is proof.

What seems to be the is-shoe here?

The gold chain does complete this outfit. We have to give credit where it is due, and this sure does that. But what really upsets us is this setup of using shoelaces as a type of bolo tie, complete with the leather patterns of a sneaker.

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Why would you use footwear as neckwear? This really doesn’t make any sense now, does it? If this person is looking for the aesthetic here, we don’t get it — kind of like those Nike logo sunglasses. The point goes far above our heads.

What’s happening here?

We are at a loss in understanding what is happening here. Is this some sort of a sock that is worn over a high-heeled shoe? Or is this some sort of a fall trend that we, the uncultured, do not know about?

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Apparently not, it seems. This is just a sock or a foot glove (No such thing. Something needs to be said about this, yeah?) over a high heel. If wearing heels makes you feel barefoot, then why choose those shoes at all?

Them nails be bussin or brushin?

Again, this is something that defeats all purpose and meaning in one fell swoop. Look, we get that people love to have a good manicure, and who are we to say what not to enjoy. But, this makes absolutely no sense.

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Sure, things don’t have to make sense to anyone but the designer or fashionista styling the design. They have it because they can, and it’s their right. But this seems downright useless. How are you supposed to do anything with nails like those?

Chess cut

There are two things here that we need to acknowledge. First would be the talent of the hairstylist. To fulfill a request like this is nothing short of professional. She has confidence in herself and her abilities, as well she should.

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Secondly, the bravado on this guy to request something like this and to actually go ahead with it. He knows what he wants, and he is willing to patiently wait while his requests are met. Plus, he has some encouraging friends.

Buttful of Asha on the 45

We think this would have been better with a bosom for a pillow — because everybody needs a bosom for a pillow. Not in a sexual context should this be deciphered but in a purely physical, affectionate sense. Grow up y’all.

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Plus, if you guys got the song reference, then cousin, you and I are going to be very good friends. Now back to this product. If you don’t mind neck and spinal problems, please, by all means, go for a butt pillow.

Need a hand?

Of all the designs in existence, we can’t believe that they went ahead with this. If the main point of this cup is to be an ornamental piece with some sort of message, then hey, that’s cool by us. After all, whose grandparents didn’t have a mug with their grandkid’s face on it?

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But to use this as a vessel for drinking stuff is just asking for trouble. There is no way to properly grip the cup when there is a hot beverage in it. While the aesthetic might be interesting, it certainly isn’t worth burning your palm for.

Oh how time flies

We’ve all heard the expression “time flies,” but this design makes us wonder if that’s literally possible. While it may not be as creepy as a cat clock with moving eyes and tail, this doesn’t put us at ease, either.

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Having a flying squirrel for a clock would certainly be a topic for discussion, but is it worth it? We do have to give points to the designer for putting dots for hour notches — it certainly makes it easier to navigate this strange timepiece.

But, why?

That’s one of the main questions we have when we see these two rock baths. If that’s what you would call them. If the designer just made the entire tub with rocks and, in a way, it makes it easier to climb into…

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Though it seems like a bit of a hazard to climb out of — slipping on rocks isn’t exactly a relaxing end to a spa day. And those wall-mounted dressers aren’t fantastic, either. Do you need to stand in the tub to reach the top drawer? This whole thing is a safety hazard!

Urban camouflage 101

Out of all the things we had the pleasure (and displeasure) of seeing so far, this one falls right in the middle. In fact, this is quite clever, to be honest. If you have a satellite dish, why not let it blend in?

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Living in an apartment building, all the tenents can do as they please, within reason, as to what is on the outside of the building. This design on the satellite dish, while a bit dizzying, at least maintains the look of the building.

It’s a shoe, it’s a chair, it’s a shair

A shoe chair. Really, this provides more questions than answers. What seems to be the purpose of this? The only logical explanation we can think of is if it were in a shoe store. But even then, it’s somewhat questionable.

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Plus getting into this chair seems like an ordeal in itself. There are no proper useful armrests, just some leather straps. Overall, it’s just a fluke. Now, this is, we can honestly say, a crime against good taste in every sense of the word.

Bar curtains

Aside from the fact that it is completely useless against forced entry, we have to say that it is quite well made. Cute even, if you consider certain facets. But useless, nonetheless. It’s like inviting robbers to take a chance with the house.

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If they wanted to keep the style but also the safety, they could have utilized this in a way where they could actually build a window as well. You know, those old-timey windows with two metal bars in a cross pattern? That would really make it look more aesthetic and reinforced.

Uber Peacock?

What seems to be happening here? Some sort of a cyberpunk peacock mating ritual that we don’t know about? Well as we always keep on saying here, the truth is always stranger than fiction. The truth won’t set you free here, but it will give context.

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The person here is playing Pokemón Go on multiple devices. He has constructed this apparatus to house dozens of phones, though we’re not sure how many are his. Perhaps he is hatching eggs for his friends or is looking for a gym to claim.

Would this get your seal of approval?

Well, if this was found in a cafeteria next to (or inside) an aquarium, we wouldn’t mind. In fact, it is quite on-brand with the setting in which it is present…if that was the case. But is it? We honestly can’t say.

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We don’t have any more idea than you do about where this is, but given the context, it doesn’t look like a seaside restaurant. We are somewhat sure that this impressive table was found in a place where it would not get our seal of approval.

Denims by Dalí

This does look like the kind of thing Salvador Dalí would have been interested in. It has a certain kind of aesthetic that we can accurately pinpoint here, but it’s pointless, that’s for sure. Don’t see it? Let us tell you why.

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The pockets don’t serve any purpose here. One is too deep for a back pocket, and the other one is too shallow. One provides a hassle to retrieve items, and the other is a risky place to keep stuff. There’s no balance.

Sleep sock

Well, what do you know! A tube sock that doubles as a sleeping bag. Doubles is a bit of a stretch because only Paul Bunyan would have large enough feet to put these socks on. Or perhaps Bigfoot. Either way, it’s definitely not going to fit in anyone’s shoe.

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Honestly though. We don’t view this as a crime but as a good product that offers comfort. It is a bit longer than needed, but you can always tuck the excess below and make it extra comfortable. That’s how you roll!

Wait, what?

There is something called taking things a bit too far, and this is exactly what it is. They could have just put some decorations on the urinal itself, but no, they went ahead and created this monstrosity for no apparent reason.

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Remember that spell Professor McGonagall uses, during the fight with Voldermort, in Hogwarts? Piertotum Locomoter! We can’t even imagine what this would do in the power of that spell — reanimating and dragging itself by its hands like an eldritch creature with no lower body.

Prank Rug

Now, this is the kind of product that gets the approval of Wile. E. Coyote. Super genius, we almost forgot to add. This looks like the kind of shenanigan he would pull on the Road Runner. It certainly looks like it fits cartoon logic.

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Now, there’s the thing — if the aim of purchasing this rug is as a prank, then it works rather well. But if the purpose is as a rug, then it’s a bit pointless, to be honest. It could even be considered a hazard as anyone walking near it would pause and possibly stumble.

Hardcore!

Okay, we will be honest here. As far as the Nike sunglass is concerned, this just takes the cake! Functionally it is somewhat inept. We say somewhat because at least it covers both eyes equally, unlike that sham we saw earlier.

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When you consider the full-on aesthetic value, hot diggity dang, this is just awesome. His proportionate facial features really highlight the effect posed by the sunglasses. If he is looking to put forward a statement piece, he need not look far and wide. This would do.

Squirtle! Use hydro pump!

This cutie from the Kanto region is Squirtle. He happens to be one of the most famous pokemón in existence, after Pikachu. Squirtle is a turtle pokemón, so it’s no wonder that he was used as a showerhead, as shown here.

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But the thing is how the water is spouting — it is coming from the belly region, not his mouth or arms. Just for that, it gets minus points in the cute column and a few in the creepy. What happened to Squirtle that he’s shooting water from his abdomen?

Ugh!

If you right-click and left-click but gadgets don’t spring out like Batman’s utility belt, what’s the point? Otherwise, this looks like those shiny, obvious belt buckles worn by Howard Wolowitz the astronomer in the TV series The Big Bang Theory.

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This really should belong in the worst design hall of fame, in our opinion. But if this was used as a prop in cosplay, then kudos to them for being so inventive with whatever is available. Quite the fine line, as you see here.

Sponsored by Apple

Either this is a statement against Apple products, as whoever did this is obviously not a fan. Who would just stick thousands of dollars worth of iPhones and iPads in cement if they were Apple users? Or else, there could be another reason for this…

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That reason is that the person who designed this was trying his hand at decorating his shop. What better way to advertise that you sell Apple products than to lay the porch of your shop with them? We just hope that all of the useful tech was taken out to be repurposed before the products were set into the cement.

Creative

It is creative but admittedly a bit creepy. This really is an ingenious way of storing screw heads and drill bits, with them all out on display and neatly organized. We are all familiar with the feeling of being frustrated when you can’t find what you are looking for.

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Though, in our opinion, the design was wasted on regular drill bits. This would be perfect in an orthodontist’s office! Though the “teeth” may be smaller with dental equipment, it would fit the vibe perfectly. What do you think? Would you find this creepy or cool at your dentist’s or orthodontist’s office?

Lord Business

Unless this guy works in a winery, we can’t fathom why he would be wearing shoes like this. They look incredibly uncomfortable to operate. Anyone who has a good pair of shoes knows how much support they provide your feet.

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If there’s an emergency like a robbery, what will he do? Run after the robber? In those? We think Shuri from Black Panther should do her iconic “What are those??” line on these shoes as they deserve it. Fashion should be limitless, but there should be a limit to this.

Cool earrings or cooler?

Well, they are water cooler earrings. There are certainly much worse design choices for earrings — remember the first piercing on this list? We’d choose water coolers over pimples every day of the week. And who wouldn’t pass up the opportunity for “around the watercooler” jokes?

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Remember those big hula hoop-like earrings that were all the rage back in the day. If one of those got caught in something, well, then you will feel some real pain in your pinnae. At least these seem less dangerous…

I just don’t give a poop

Well, if you wanted to make a not-so-subtle statement about how you feel, this is it. Maybe she’s fed up with the way the institution is run and this is the way she wanted to voice her opinion. After all, what other reason is there for a backpack like that?

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Who in their right mind would be seen with a backpack like this if they didn’t want to make a statement? Maybe she took on a dare, and this is the outcome of it? We have too many questions and no answers. If you know the reason for this odd design, let us know.

Minion sofa

Do you know how the goats found in the middle east have tails filled with fat? Yeah, imagine a camel’s hump but instead of being in the middle of the back, imagine it in the tail region. Yeah, that’s what this looks like.

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Yellow would have been a good color if they stuck with that color. Never go on to mix intricate designs with bright flashing colors and unnecessary pairings because you can never make it subtle. This is quite evident from the state of this sofa.

Panda Shower

Looks like this panda has seen some stuff and he doesn’t want to talk about it. That smile doesn’t fit with the wide eyes, and the holes are trypophobia-inducing, to say the least. We can’t tell if this is better or worse than Squirtle.

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Just design the showerhead as a showerhead. Don’t design it as something like this because it is unnecessary, to say the least. You don’t want this to be gazing at you lazily while you try to have a shower after a long day.

Safety knit

Compared to some of the other designs, this one is tame. And we do have to wonder what about the design made it onto @uglydesign’s Instagram page. Maybe because of the color coordination? Maybe because it is crocheted? Why this unnecessary grudge against crocheted works?

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It looks okay, and it serves its purpose — the purpose of safely carrying the bottle of disinfectant. In this time and age, what this lady is doing is extremely commendable. Or, perhaps she carries it as an easy deterrent for cats causing mischief. Who knows?

Lettuce know what you think

If there is one thing that we would love to know, it would be to analyze the thought process of this particular Vietnamese man, who is apparently a delivery/taxi driver wearing headgear topped with spinach. Yeah, you heard that right. Spinach!

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Unless he has some sort of fertilizer sprinkled on his head, there is no way that he could have kept this bunch of spinach in spring condition. Sometimes there are things in this world that defy explanation, and this takes the cake.

Bear Grylls would be proud!

Improvise. Adapt and overcome. That’s the motto this person seems to be following here. And it works perfectly, doesn’t it? What difference does it make if you can’t tell the difference in actuality? That’s what matters here, in the end.

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If you are on a tight budget but still want to have a funky, if slightly gross, nail design, then this is for you. Whoever designed this is certainly creative, and we have to give them points for that. After all, who would look at spaghetti and see nails?

Look, I am your toothbrush!

Anakin Skywalker was found as a captive on Tatooine by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and also had the capacity to be among the most potent Jedi ever, with some believing he was the foretold Chosen One who would restore balance to the Force.

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Anakin Skywalker was a Clone Wars hero who was loving and sympathetic, but he also possessed a dread of rejection which would be his undoing. Such a powerful character and you make him into a toothbrush? Come on, man! Have some respect.

Hold on a second

The moniker “dead man’s fingers” refers to mushroom-like spore germination, which can be found around the foot of dying or dead trees and shrubs, along with wooden items in touch with dirt (e.g., wood barrels). The wood-decomposing fungus produces several varieties of dead man’s fingers.

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Fungi that induce black root rot spawn others. That is what this table looks like. A fungal growth. There are thousands of good designs but this is what they went ahead with. Glad they didn’t have any major creative ideas like this anymore.