Continuing the data vs. design meme, I'd like to point to two recent articles. The first cites studies that qualitatively demonstrate that "more attractive" design is more usable. I generally tend to agree with this sentiment, so I don't find the findings terribly surprising. It is heartening to have some hard evidence though. And the idea that emotion is important is a simple yet powerful one.
I also pretty strongly agree with the idea that attractiveness is not universal — that it's subjective. So what may be more usable for one person may be less so for another. This is not really addressed in the article, which is too bad. I think it's an important point, and one Modernism is known to actively avoid or completely disavow.
The second article speculates on the true nature of the typical Google employee and what makes him incapable of even perceiving the differences between good and bad design. It's a pretty snarky take, and I can't say I take it too terribly seriously. But it's a fun read, and probably holds some grain of truth as to why Google's design looks the way it does.
So, if anyone's still interested in this topic, go check out the articles. Very interesting stuff.