There are several points of convergence between Heller’s ‘Cult of the Ugly’ and Scher’s speech on ‘Serious play’. Heller states that ‘Experimentation is the engine of progress, its fuel a mixture of instinct, intelligence or discipline,’ on the other hand, Scher’s explains how she has been engaged four times in her career in serious play where she has explored new avenues. She differentiates between serious and solemn design

Scher began her career working in a record business designing records covers. She hated the Helvetica typeface which was widely used these days in graphic design. This hatred pushed her to explore and experiment new avenues. She poured her inspirations from the ‘art nouveau’ and ‘art deco’. The designs that came out from it were innovative. Scher’s second encounter in serious design was with the Public Theatre where she designed its identity. She was then involved in other cultural identity projects which she considered to be solemn design as there was no serious play. She refers solemn design as effective, socially correct and widely accepted whereas serious deign is spontaneous, innovative, not perfect.

Heller’s goes in the same direction and argues that ugly design in the postmodern period is ‘to create and define alternative standards’ from conventional design. Ugly designs are meant to shock and to encourage new reading and viewing pattern. He took as example the work of the American designer Art Chantry to support his argument. Chantry has been using found commercial artefacts from catalogues to produce creative and innovative low budget graphics.

Both Heller and Scher agree that progress is made in design trough failures during experimentation, otherwise nothing would have been left to discover. Base on her own experience, Scher’s showed her achievements in producing innovative and creative designs which was not seen before. Heller’s on his side showed how some designers have been challenging the conventional way of design through experimentation.


Heller, S., 1993. Cult of the Ugly. Eye Magazine, 9. Available at: [Visited on 7/12/2012].

TED, 2008. Serious Play. [Video Online] Available at: [Visited on 7/12/2012 ].

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