But, in the end the "design" you are speaking of is a "matter of taste" issue.
It's that, and more. A nice brushed-steel look doesn't mean that a piece of software is easy to use. (As it happens, a lot of OS X software is easy to use, but that's because Apple spent a lot of time on all aspects of their design.) Something can test very well in an objective usability test -- it can be learnable, memorable, efficient, etc. -- but still look like crud.
... no decent "designers" (what-ever that might be) ...
"Designer" = "someone who specializes in design." It's a fairly large set of skills that might include:
- product design -- what is it, what does it do, and who is it for?
- information architecture -- the organization of data, feature groups, and vocabulary
- interaction design -- the design of user workflow and progression through tasks, navigation, widget-level interactions
- visual design -- look-and-feel, icons, imagery, typography, colors, etc.; includes cognitive aspects as well as "taste"
Also, let's not be too quick to denigrate "appealing" or "a matter of taste." The Stanford Web Credibility Project (google it) found that users' perception of trustworthiness depended heavily on the professionalism of sites' visual design, for instance. Just FYI.