In evaluating design, it is easy to focus on functional performance and quality of materials and workmanship. While these are subject to debate-much as people argue over the best make of car-they offer generally understood criteria by which to judge. Aesthetic values, less easy to spell out, are all too often dismissed as "a matter of taste" that cannot be dealt with in any logical way. Teachers and students of design as well as working designers often slip into a belief that design can be evaluated only in terms of its practical aspects, since they cannot explain the aesthetic values at work.
Nonetheless, one can identify levels of aesthetic quality. In the evaluation of design, better is distinguishable from worse, and near-unanimity arises in selecting outstandingly good and bad designs. Such quality distinctions can be made even in the realm of the fine arts, in which the issues of function and workmanship scarcely apply. "Great art" is identified by a wide consensus that includes critics, historians, dealers, collectors, and sensitive viewers with no special qualifications. All of them recognize high quality even in work that may not be appealing to a particular taste or fit any particular definition of "beauty."
It is also true that objects can be made useful and sturdy without exhibiting any particular visual quality. It is the unique role of the designer to form designs in such a way that they come to have a meaning beyond their simple physical reality Viewing them at second hand, in photographs or other illustrations, is one way to test their success. One can develop certain rapport with a designed object that one has never actually seen if its visual quality is in itself strong enough to
Viewing the work of the interior designer in this way give a yardstick for measuring excellence. We expect a space to serve its practical purpose well, and we expect it to be well made of suitable materials. We also expect it to give us a sensory experience that will help us to understand its use an its structure as well as offer a range of other ideas about its time, location, and the viewpoints of its designer and owner client. This is the nature of experiencing a visit to a great cathedral, a fine chateau, or other landmark buildings. In the same way, a visit to a more modest office, restaurant, or living room can offer pleasures that go beyond mere practical accommodation. In an ideal world, every space that we enter Find use would be designed not only to serve its purpose well hit also to offer a visual experience that would be appropriate, satisfying, and even memorable.