Every Friday we highlight five things we have on our radar that we think should be on yours, too.

Here’s this week’s Friday Fives.

Design. Is. Important.

This time we’re serious. Design is really important, I promise. I’m not talking about the perfect swatch, image treatment, or concept, but wayfinding, hierarchy, and data visualization. Voter suppression is not new to the conversation this year, but voter confusion at the hands of bad design might be a new concept for most, especially if you blinked back in 2000 during the presidential election (or if you were 7 years old like me). Unfortunately, ballot designs are a state-by-state case, which means some of us are doing it better than others. Slight missteps in any communication, overwhelming blocks of information, or even threatening legal jargon all have the potential to throw voters. Christopher Patten, who has just helped redesign the mail-in envelopes for North Carolina, added a few aesthetic and procedural edits that aid in alleviating some of the confusion and intimidation. Check out the article to read more about how this really boring and not sexy design process can have critical implications on our nation’s future. ––CB

The creepiest tea set ever?

If you think your love-hate relationship with those irresistible desserts couldn’t get any more complicated, think again. Ronit Baranga has brought a disturbing and slightly terrifying twist to these delectable sweets that might make you think twice about your dessert cravings. The artist questions the complex relationships we have with these foods, in particular the constant and endless craving for more sugar, more attention, and more love, by bringing in eerily realistic human features like our lips and fingers. This tea set of human features is titled All Things Sweet & Painful and will be on show at Melbourne’s Beinart Gallery starting from October 17. Be sure to check it out if you happen to be Down Under. ––JP

Has Microsoft been on the A train during rush-hour?

I can’t say that I miss the old jam-packed rush hour subways, but it did have its benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy working from home, but sometimes it’s hard to determine when work starts and when it ends. Personally, I have resorted to separating work and fun in terms of my desk and couch, but it’s just not the same as when I plug in my earphones and head home from the office. Microsoft is looking to bring back this positive aspect of our travels through a new update to its Team package that is set for next year. This ‘virtual commute’ will introduce simple solutions that aim to mark an end to your day, such as displaying a list of the day’s to-dos and enabling users to move uncompleted jobs to the following day, or an optional 10-minute meditation produced by Headspace. If all goes well, Microsoft may even look to allow virtual sharing of book and podcast recommendations to recreate those nice office chit-chats we all miss so much (you know those random chats in the office pantry or next to the watercooler?). — CC

You might want to re-think that t-shirt

Fashion giant H&M, whose previous sustainability efforts have been met with scrutiny, is attempting to take another step towards establishing its position as a more sustainable fashion business. In a world where a hefty 87% of clothing material ends up lying in a landfill, H&M has chosen to install a machine called Looop in one of its Stockholm stores. Shoppers can bring in their old t-shirts and watch the machine turn it into a brand new sweater that they can then buy for $15. This process does, however, take a lengthy 5 hours, and is meant to be more of an exhibition to demonstrate how crucial we, as customers, are in the recycling process. But don’t forget that recycling isn’t the only option! The next time you dig through your closet and find a piece of clothing you haven’t touched in ages, consider donating it to get the most use out of it! — CC

Soups, sandwiches, salads, and sustainability

A decade ago, Panera Bread became the first national restaurant chain to include calorie counts on its menu items, and this week, it will again trailblaze by labeling its items as climate-friendly. Whenever the ingredients of a dish have a collective footprint of less than 5.38kg of carbon dioxide equivalent, the menu item will have a “Cool Food Meal” designation from the World Resources Institute. Panera hopes this change will raise awareness about the relationship between food and greenhouse gas emissions and give its customers the ability to make informed decisions. Good news as we head into the chillier months–their Broccoli Cheddar soup is a “Cool Food Meal!” — AF

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