I feel like I make this argument all the time (and likely will continue to!). People always think of something being beautiful OR functional. Why can’t we have both? Personally, I’d like a world where I can have my cake and eat it too.
In the web world, CSS has made this possible. The pre-CSS web may have been functional, but what made it interesting? Taking the newness factor out, what was there to draw people in? Sure throw some witty content in there and people will like it, but that can’t last. No matter how much I enjoy something, I can only stare at a white web page with black Times New Roman for so long.
Part of the rationale for design, is that it actually makes things more functional. Objects and information can be organized in way that makes sense. Hierarchies of information, color coding, font choices can all make sites easier for people to use. And yes, they also happen to be beautiful to look at. Why do people seem to think that’s such a bad thing? I highly doubt everyone else in the world wants to stare at something that isn’t attractive. After all, that is why places like Apple and IKEA thrive. Beauty and function combined into one.