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Consequences of the Rise of Design

On Tynan

I was walking through the mall a couple days ago. My path took me past a bunch of stores and kiosks, including the Nike Store. I walked past it and looked at their window display. They had a really nicely photographed poster and some cool looking shoes in a bunch of different colors. The store was beautiful and looked like a fun place to be. At the same time, their shoes aren't particularly great, they aren't actually innovative, and they're made of cheap materials. There are many shoe companies that are way lower quality than Nike, but I don't know if there are any with such a disparity between their presentation and the actual product.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this isn't just nike or most of the clothes in the mall-- it's how our culture works now. Back in the day, if you wanted a pair of shoes you'd go to a cobbler. He would design a pair for you, or use one of his existing designs, pick out some nice leather, and make you a pair of shoes. His design work, his execution, and his materials could all be leveraged about equally, so I'd guess that you'd tend to have either poorly designed shoes that are poorly executed and made of poor materials, or well designed shoes that were well executed and used good materials.

These days, things have changed. Design can be leveraged almost infinitely, which has changed the whole equation. Mass manufacturing ensures decent execution, but supplying top quality materials is difficult. A cobbler who makes a hundred pairs of shoes a year can take the time to pick out the best hides to get the best leather. That doesn't scale to making thousands of shoes a day, so material quality drops. Execution has become more consistent, but the benefits of cutting corners is magnified. Saving a penny on making a pair of shoes didn't matter to the cobblers, but it matters to Nike.

So these days, most of what people buy is well designed, decently and consistently executed, and uses relatively poor quality materials. In the mall I walked past a kiosk of phone cases. There were some that were blinged out. Pretty good design in that they fit perfectly on the phone the're meant for, the rows of fake diamonds are all uniform, etc.. Each one looks the same and is okay quality. But the materials are crap-- cheap plastic painted to look like metal covered in lackluster plastic "gems".

The 2015-16 Celtics are the Perfect Rebuild Blueprint

On Boston Sports Daily

These Celtics aren’t Bird’s Celtics. They’re not Pierce’s Celtics. In fact, they’re not anyone in particular’s Celtics, and that’s why they’re fun to watch. Under a young coach, a core group of rag-tag castoffs and upcoming players have led themselves to third place in the Eastern Conference.

Now, this team is in no position to last 6 games in a series against a team like the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, or even maybe the Clippers, but they don’t have to. They don’t play in the Western Conference playoffs. This team could legitimately make a run towards the Eastern Conference Finals, where they’d go up against a LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers. From there, whatever happens is a bonus, because the Celtics would have proven they’re here to see. Conceivably, the team could only get better from that point.

Of players that have succeeded in Boston that are not immediately expendable, very few have chosen to leave. Since almost every player on the team is a role player, the only reason for them to leave would be that the Celtics have acquired someone better to fill their role. The beauty in what GM Danny Ainge and what Brad Stevens have built is that they’ve created an asset-filled top tier playoff team, while having almost every player on the team be expendable.

The best part is, the team’s best assets aren’t on that court every other night. They’re draft picks and cap space in the team’s back pocket ready to be dealt and filled at any time during the offseason. Can the Celtics use the draft picks? Sure, but only if they choose to and if there are talented enough players available. The next step for this team after going on a mini-run in the playoffs is to add star talent in the offseason, and they have all the keys to do so. It won’t be “cheap” per se but it will be an option. If the team can reach the conference finals this season without a star, their ceiling is limitless with one.

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