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Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Connelly, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, Cate Blanchett, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Hudson, Tilda Swinton, Penélope Cruz, Mo’Nique, Melissa Leo, Octavia Spencer, Anne Hathaway, Lupita Nyong’o, Patricia Arquette, Alicia Vikander, Viola Davis, Alison Janney, Benicio del Toro, Jim Broadbent, Chris Cooper, Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Alan Arkin, Javier Bardem, Heath Ledger, Christoph Waltz, Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer, Christoph Waltz, Jared Leto, J.K. Simmons, Mark Rylance, Mahershala Ali, Sam Rockwell are all Academy Award Winners from 2000 to the present day.
But they didn’t win for being the best Leading Actors or Actresses. They won for being voted the best Supporting Actors or Actresses of their respective years.
These days, I believe that the supporting role is what best describes how design can have the greatest impact in the technology industry today. It’s not the leading role. It’s the supporting role.
The role of design is to not aspire to be a leading actor — it’s goal should always be to become a great supporting actor. Imagine a movie or TV show without any supporting actors. It wouldn’t be a particularly interesting piece of entertainment. Yes?
So indeed — I don’t believe in “design led” as the winning paradigm. My primary goal in leading Design at Automattic is to aspire for design to be as awesome a supporting player as Jennifer Connelly or Mahershala Ali. Not bad, huh? —JM
Footnote via reading “Supporting Actors Who Stole The Movie From The Lead”
How does this happen (using the Looper examples above): Think of Heath Ledger in the Joker. We remember the Joker, and we also know it was Batman’s movie. Think of Marissa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. You can’t imagine the film without her. Or Cuba Gooding Jr’s character in Jerry Maguire — although Rod Tidwell wasn’t the center of the movie, it somehow revolved around him. And lastly there is Robin Williams in Goodwill Hunting — he’s not the central character, but he’s doing all that he can to ensure that Matt Damon’s character gets to where he needs to go.