Return to site home page


14 Scary Design Flops

We're saying Happy Halloween with these frighteningly funny crimes against the nature of intelligent design (interiors and beyond).


scream of horror

Compiled by AnnMarie Marano

This little roundup of products and projects evoked a full range of emotions from the I&S editors. Some confused us, some frightened us, some were ridiculous and some launched serious discussions about the state of design. We laughed, we cried, and now it’s your turn. Sit back, relax and enjoy some of the scariest design flops we've found to date…

The Sideways Bike:

Can someone please tell me what the point of this one was? All I can think of is it certainly offers up a nice shortcut to a broken back (either from sitting sideways for so long or from the inevitable car accident you’ll get into if you take this to the streets.) 

Kelly Wearstler:

In honor of Thing from the Addams Family, here’s one from I&S’ very own Debbie Designer, writer of the As I See It blog. I have to say if I had a nickel for every time I’ve sat in a space and thought to myself “Gee, a large hand sculpture would really polish this place off nicely,” I’d be a rich woman. You can find this beauty on Wearstler's Facebook page:

Frank Gehry Experience Music Project building, Seattle:

This building looks more like a big crumpled up piece of paper than anything else (it's meant to personify a smashed guitar).


Hint: google images of the building seen from overhead. Hal Foster, Princeton University Professor of Art and Archaeology says it much more eloquently in a recent PBS documentary on Gehry:

"The disconnection between skin and structure represented by this academic model is at its most radical in Gehry's work in the Experience Music Project … Just as Gehry wanted to make Bilbao legible through an allusion to a splintered ship, here he makes an allusion to a smashed guitar (a broken 'fret' lies over two of the blobs). But neither image works, even as a pop gesture, for you have to be well above the buildings to read them as images at all, or you have to see them in media reproduction—which is indeed a primary 'site' of this architecture."

Dental chair from Debbie Designer:

Our Debbie never fails to deliver, and she certainly hit the nail on the head again with her review of this chair:

"If this chair wasn't inspired by gingivitis, then I don't know what is. Uh, hopefully nothing is, actually. But if something had to be inspired by a disease of the mouth, then this would most certainly be it. Yes, there it is, bright and shining on the pages of your favorite design resources, reminding you that you are not flossing regularly enough."

Gap logo:

Remember the uproar this one caused last year? You’d think they’d just told people that the U.S. flag would soon be changing from stars and stripes to circles and triangles. I will say it loud and proud that I liked it and their theory behind the visual (to think outside of the box).

But the whole fiasco gave new meaning to the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Pussy Lawn:

Check out the name on this chair that's made from coconut fibers.


Need I say more?

The treadmill desk:

I mean in theory, this one should work. In theory, it seems like the perfect solution to the sedentary work lifestyle we are all being warned so vehemently against.


So then why can’t I stop giggling?

The Cocon chair:

Sure, we’d all love to be able to take a nap in the middle of the day. But this is ridiculous:


W New York:

We weren’t particularly offended by this project but Jason Sheftell of the New York Daily News certainly was: “The only advice I would give is to rip it up and start over. Something terrible happened at the W New York-Downtown. The lobby is one of the worst pieces of design work in the history of New York hotels.”

Or perhaps our Art Director Kim Barbrie said it better when she exclaimed “I would get dizzy there!”

Photo from The Daily News

The Skin Collection:




This one is from a great listing compiled by our friends over at Fast Company, aptly named 12 Terrifying Pieces, and is downright disgusting. Plain and simple. If we were ranking these in any sort of order, this one would win the number one spot, hands down. The Skin line is a horribly nasty attempt at "storage." See the explanation here.


The royal wedding attire:

The hats from this year’s royal wedding were epic. Especially these two, worn by the Duchess of York’s daughters. But I guess the joke is on us because we're the ones still talking about them.

Nativity scene:

I’m still scratching my head on this one, a minimalist version of a nativity scene. Be sure to run out and grab one for the upcoming holidays and give it to the oldest person you know. The expression on their face will be priceless.

The Portland Building by Michael Graves:

We love us some Michael Graves, but this one looks like a game of Jenga rather than a city office building.

Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang in North Korea:


Vegas, Vegas, Vegas!! Oh, woops…our mistake, we’re in North Korea. This one looks like the Stratosphere, and as Editor-in-Chief Robert Nieminen pointed out in his July editorial, this building is often photoshopped out of pictures by the government because it’s considered such an eyesore.