There have been moments in design history where the effect of bad design has been notably disastrous. We could cite butterfly ballots and hanging chads. Yet, for the most part, aesthetic design disasters usually don't beget actual human calamity. This is a particularly good lesson for those budding designers looking to enter the field.
These young people are usually coming out of school steeped in the grand tradition of high minded standards and idealistic notions of what is proper design, and what are proper systems, and grids, and consistency. All of these things are obviously important to creating high-level functioning design, but the more interesting design challenges come when something steps in to bend the grid, something not just random, but purposefully destructive to the designers solution.
It comes from the client's wife who doesn't like the color orange. It comes from fear of doing something that pushes boundaries or from a lack of money, or from the fact that the client really wants a coupon jammed somewhere in the brochure. Sometimes it comes from the fact that you release a design to your client who then bastardizes it as it goes through their machine.
This is when the designers decry their beloved creations being desecrated. But the first lesson a budding designer needs to learn is that the rules you learned can be filed in the garbage because in an era of social media, in an era where every individual can be a standard barer for your clients brand, consistency is no longer the end all be all of a brand. Matching the color precisely, using the exact font no longer are the tantamount issue for most of our clients. It used to be. Control was what was sought after and designers were the ones given that control. But now everything is a conversation and the customers are no longer just consumers, they're ambassadors and co-conspirators.
As designers we would like to let everyone think that what we do is rocket science, and that we are Mission Control. This is how we teach design. Reality on the other hand shows that we can't just be good designers. We need to be good partners. We need to be the best co-conspirators in the room.