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Illustration of Donald Trump wearing a Make America Great Again hat

The worst design of 2016 was also the most effective — Diana Budds, Fast Company

Why Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again hat, was a wildly successful design, despite being reviled by gatekeepers of good-taste design.

The “undesigned” hat represented this everyman sensibility, while Hillary [Clinton]’s high-design branding — which was disciplined, systematic, and well-executed — embodied the establishment narrative that Trump railed against and that Middle America felt had failed them. “The DIY nature of the hat embodies the wares of a ‘self-made man’ and intentionally distances itself from well-established and unassailable high-design brand systems of Hillary and Obama,” Young says. “Tasteful design becomes suspect… The trucker cap is as American as apple pie and baseball.”

This reminds me of the story that the most “tasteful” office spaces are less productive. When given a clean-looking office cubicle, people fill it with garden gnomes.

I don’t agree with the article’s premise that this challenges the idea of design thinking. Surely it means that Hillary Clinton’s designers simply didn’t do a good enough job at it (because nice typefaces ≠ design thinking).

But this does provide a challenge to the received wisdom of what good design is, and whether tasteful design is desirable.

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How Sony’s blunder revived Vib-Ribbon, a long-lost classic

This is a few years old. But I was reminded of the brilliantly quirky PlayStation game Vib-Ribbon this week, and came across this amusing article.

It tells the story of a new CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America who knew his PlayStation games, but forgot that Vib-Ribbon had never been released in North America.

Shawn Layden just wanted to make a good first impression…

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Tech has a diversity problem — so this designer went to Kentucky

I am interested in how, despite the (theoretical) potential of technology improvements to make remote working easier, technology jobs still seem to cluster in particular areas.

Design firms and technology firms are heavily concentrated in cities on the west and east coasts, particularly in San Francisco, LA, and New York, limiting job opportunities to those who have the resources to move to, and live in, such expensive metropolises. And with so many designers living in urban centers, few have the perspective that comes from living in rural areas.

This can be viewed as yet another of the tech industry’s diversity problems.

Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com, has all of its employees working remotely. Automattic’s John Maeda is trying to engage young people “that fall outside the normal Silicon Valley culture”.

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