There's a great article in the Washington post called Pearls Before Breakfast. It's about how a top classical violinist in America (just voted Americas top classical musician) went to the Washington DC Metro and started busking.
Most people walked on by.
What does that mean? The article explores some of the possibilities. But, there's a couple of things I take from it, quite often things of beauty (music, art, design) need to be presented within a context for you to appreciate it. Relating this to software design, this means unless we stop and look at good design and appreciate it for what it is, we are most likely to pass it by never realising it was good design.
The next point to take away is also really interesting. It's also really odd, because I was talking about exactly this with a co-worker yesterday! That is Immanuel Kant (philosopher) said that beauty cannot be truly experienced unless we have a sense or morality. or, Without a sense of whats right and whats wrong, we can't appreciate beauty. Appreciating beauty is not the same as liking something either. I think theres an element of objectiveness to beauty and whether we like something or not tends to be quite subjective. Having said that, Kant didn't quite say this at all, he painted a fuzzier picture of how beauty and morality tend to interact. Kant's most famous moral idea is "The Categorical Imperative". This a set of 3 basic "rules", however, most of interesting discussion is based around the consequences of those rules and what they mean.... Anyways! How does this relate to software development? It means we really need to spend some time understanding what good code is and what bad code is. The tricky thing is that what's good and bad is not carved into a rock anywhere. However once we start developing a sense for what good and bad is we then tend to recognise beautiful designs and why they are beautiful. With a bit of luck we can hone our sense of "Code Morality" so finely that we won't walk by a Masterpiece out of context.