When one has the opportunity to live in another culture, it is to be expected that it won't take long to notice all the subtle and the not so subtle differences. It certainly didn't take me five years to figure out that Germans, in general, are very practical. (if you are not included in this generally blanketed statement, please take no offense, as none was intended) This does not mean that Germans do not enjoy beautiful things, quite the contrary. Usually if something is only "pretty" without also being "practical", then it's a sure fire way for a German to overlook it. I do not find such a cultural characteristic to be a negative one, but just a different one.
For example: On some visit to the States a while back, I had to explain to my husband why most American's have a "two-shower-curtain-in-one" system. In case you're not familiar, often this is with one fabric outside curtain (aka "pretty"), and one plastic inside curtain (aka "practical")... the best of both worlds, if you will. It actually developed into quite a lengthy conversation of explaining why two are better than one. My husband just could not understand the concept that while the fabric shower curtain in itself holds no practical uses, the plain plastic single curtain just is not desired because it is not attractive.
I find that for many Americans, decisions to purchase things can often be based on, "I bought it because it was pretty... no other reason." But I guess as they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" thinking has influenced a few of my sewing projects these days. Just a little preview for now... more to come later (with additional stories... see, I told you I just couldn't stay away from these fabrics.)
So... it leaves me with just one question for you... when it comes to "pretty vs. practical" which one do you go for?