Khoi has made some great observations in this article, but I disagree with the overall premise. One thing we don’t talk enough about as designers is the difference between design, holistically, and visual treatment. A gorgeous button and “managed” pixels are part of the visual treatment. But that doesn’t actually make the page or app well-designed. We don’t like admitting this to ourselves because it means that we have to admit that things like Gmail, are, on some importantly-functional level, very well (or at least, adequately) designed.
The ability to make something pretty is not the same as the ability to design it well unless the only goal is to make the thing pretty.