I just spent my afternoon in a design meeting for a Hi-Fi amplifier. As the high-qual engineer I spent my time explaining to my techie friend (who has to build the thing) that the only important thing about the thing is the design. The design, the way it looks to the buyer and his friends, the way it feels when touched, will sell the thing, and design is hard to get right. The guts of the thing need to work, sure, but that's just electronics.
Just electronics!? That's the bit that's hard to get right, nice packaging is much easier.
But then as most people think mp3s are OK, why even bother catering to those who like good quality sound from their hifi?
I do not think one should ignore looks, but so many things look nice and are useless to use as a result. Imagine if the designer came back to you and said we decided to drop some of the controls like volume and balance as they spoiled the clean look of the amp.
Besides if you are a fashion photographer and colour mangement chap, why are you a hifi engineer all of a sudden?
Apple have taken this concept a stage further, they are designing computers with a strong "Female Acceptance Quotient". Computers as buyable and as usable as design chairs.
Do you mean 'designer' [what a stupid term] chairs? That look good, but are awful to sit in? Design chairs to me would be more like the very ergonomic and comfortable chairs like those made by Hag or Aeron, where usability is the priority.