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Our highlight at Milan Design Week 2024: Google Design

Gudy-Herder-speaking with-the-CMF-team-at- Google-Design

 

You might have already read our article on the Top 4 Installations of the Milan Design Week 2024; it did not include Google’s project, sensing it needed a separate post. In terms of color, material and finish, and how to translate a multi-sensory journey into products, this was THE highlight of Milan Design Week 2024.

 

Making sense of color by Google Design

Working with CMF, we found this installation by Google Design to be highly inspirational and educational. Not only did they explain every single step of the experience, but they were also open to questions we would ask and took some time to answer. The curation is based on scientific findings regarding color, touching on its psychological and physiological influences on people when they touch color frequencies.

The experience spins around five questions:

What does color sound like? How does color feel? How does color look like? What does color smell like? What does color taste like?

Google Design invited us into an immersive journey designed by research studio Chromasonic, which explored how color is elemental to sensing the world around us and how to translate these conclusions into Google’s hardware design.

SOUND

As light ebbs and flows throughout the space, algorithmically connected sound waves fill the atmospheric environment: Color becomes audible, and sound becomes visible. Merging light and sound involves discovering our transformational essence and harmonizing the mind and body. Sensory Field is a large-scale walk-through installation composed of a matrix of 21 translucent light and sound chambers that envelop visitors in a dynamic play of localized color and sound.

 

Top 4 installations seen at Milan Design Week 2024 - Google Design

Top 5 installations seen at Milan Design Week 2024 - Google Design

 

TOUCH

When you touch a wavy surface of a pebble, what color comes to mind? If a surface is porous and raw, what color do you picture? The second exercise involved the power of tactility with simple ceramic forms.

 

How does color feel like with Google Design at MDW24

 

SMELL

Peony petals falling from the ceiling and a soft peony smell in the air would inform a color translated into Google’s devices. This part of the installation reflects how a smell relates to a color. What color do we think when we smell peony?

Top 5 installations seen at Milan Design Week 2024 - Google Design

Top 5 installations seen at Milan Design Week 2024 - Google Design

TASTE

If you see citric objects, would you think of a specific taste? If so, which color comes to mind?

HOW DOES COLOR TASTE LIKE WITH GOOGLE DESIGN

Google Design Installation at MDW24

SIGHT

The pillar had a concave vessel filled with water. The exercise invites the viewer to see the sky reflected in water in its purest form as the screen above shows a pixelated blue.

 

Top 5 installations seen at Milan Design Week 2024 - Google Design

Google Design Installation at MDW24 Making Sense of color

THE PRODUCT LINE

In an interview with Designboom, Ivy Ross explains her full-circle moment:

I didn’t realize it until I started working on it (the installation), how full circle this has come. When I was still a jewelry artist, my work had to do with color. I worked with titanium and niobium, in which you charge the metal with electricity and they rearrange their molecular structure, so in light, they appear in different colors. All my early experimentation was with how to reflect the light, to change the metal to different colors. So, there is a nice coming-home between growing up in the purple box, and then making jewelry that was all about color.

Ivy Ross, VP of Design Hardware products at Google

The products range from Pixel 7A to Pixel Buds Pro, Pixel Watch 2, and Pixel Watch Woven Band. The paring you see in each color story on a plate is different. We saw the 2022 and 2023 color palettes with the latest 2024 release of Mint (first image). The mint story shows an experiment of a silicone bun filled with recycled aluminum shaving, presented on a handwoven placemat designed by the Google CMF team.

Speaking to Eclectic Trends, the CMF team told us they were working on the 2026 palette now. The design and CMF team, which has existed for the past 7-8 years, work closely on all product development. They don’t have a hierarchy regarding who starts first but collaborate closely.

 

Google Design Installation at MDW24

Google Design Installation at MDW24

Google Design CMF Color palette

Google Design Installation at MDW24

Google Design Installation at MDW24

Google Design Installation at MDW24

 

What made it special?
  1. Google Design’s Head of PR gives you a warm welcome and explains the foundation of the installation. Their communication is top-notch. They let groups of around 20 people in to enjoy the experience, which lasts around 25 minutes and makes you feel special and part of their methodology (which, of course, goes beyond, but you get a generous glimpse behind the scenes).
  2. It’s a multi-sensory experience. For the first 15 minutes, you listen to color only. You need to take a break from the design week hustle and sit quietly for 15 minutes listening to sound; it is rather abstract and can get you out of your comfort zone when the hustle and meeting schedules are the standard this week. They make you stop.
  3. Google casually places its product on the color palette table. It’s part of a very creative and abstract setting and is non-intrusive. You feel you are witnessing a behind-the-scenes process all the time. The team told Eclectic Trends that Ivy Ross is all about giving back, and sharing their process with like-minded is just a part of it.

 

Gudy-Herder-speaking with-the-CMF-team-at- Google-Design

The CMF Team generously shared with me at the end of the show how they work together with the design team on new projects. This is how it works:

  1. They will start looking into Macro Trends. What is happening in politics, economics, and socio-cultural movements? Where stands the end consumer? What’s the mood?
  2. In a second step, they look into CMF drivers. What colors are out there impacting society? Which materials play a major role? Why?
  3. How can 1. and 2. be translated into first ideas and, moreover, into a full range of devices? If a specific BLUE is picked, it has to serve on all devices.

All decisions fall under the leitmotiv of Optimistic – Daring – Human. These are Google Design’s core pillars for product development.

 


 

Think Tank of Innovative Materials

New Masterclass

Think Tank of Color + Materials Trends for 2025

 

This one-day masterclass, set to take place in Barcelona, is designed for creatives eager to explore the latest material trends firsthand. During the session, participants will engage in interactive discussions, hands-on exploration of 200+ materials, and collaborative brainstorming to generate innovative ideas for their application.

Everybody gets to take home a box full of materials.

How about some extra inspiration?

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Best of Design Miami 2023

In recent weeks, Miami has become the epicenter for the art and design community, hosting a dynamic six-day showcase of design unveilings and temporary installations

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