Using the same Nikkor 35mm f/2.0 AIS as an example, while a fine lens in its own right, I have 35mm lenses which:
1) are sharper wide open
2) vignette less
3) distort less
4) flare less
5) have more or less the same size & weight
Admittedly those "better" lenses were once much more expensive when new. But the tradeoffs can be much less than you seem to imply.
That said, I'm a fan of very compact and corrected slow lenses as well...
I've never ever heard of lenses expressly being designed to be less sharp, unless you're talking about portrait and/or "soft" lenses