Canonical have for months been hiring designers and user experience staff. It has taken much longer than they hoped, but in January/February hopefully a new team will be in place. Whether their initial work will make a dramatic visual impact on Jaunty, no one knows yet. At the Ubuntu Open Week Thusday 6. November 2008 Mark Shuttleworth made this statement in a Q+A session:
...I know that other work, on the user experience front, will land, but i'll keep some surprises in store till later.
You can grab the whole Q+A session on the Ubuntu Open Week wiki.
The new team, the Canonical Desktop Experience Team, is coming together, but recently Mirco Müller (aka the king of bling) registered a new very interesting team called Bling Brigade.
Both teams looks very promising (and very much alike) in the case of bringing a greater user experience, bling and eye candy to the linux desktop.
Let hope these new teams will succeed. If your unfamilliar with Mirco Müllers work, you can be enlightened be the video clip below or check his website http://macslow.thepimp.net/
UPDATE: The video seems to be down at the moment so here's the direct link: http://macslow.thepimp.net/projects/lowfat/preview-1.avi