What you need to know

  • Google recently opened the doors of its design lab to a journalist for the first time.
  • The lab is only accessible to select employees.
  • It's where the design of Google's hardware products are initially created.

Google's been making a big push with its hardware efforts over the last few years, and one thing that's stuck out about its phones, speakers, and earbuds have been their design. Recently, Google's Design Lab was opened for the very first time to a journalist — giving us a look inside where Google's product design comes to life.

The tour was given to Fast Company, and the 70,000 sq ft building looks awfully impressive. Ivy Ross, the Vice President and Head of Hardware Design for Google, worked with CEO Sundar Pichai on designing the lab to create the best environment possible for creativity.

Ross collaborated with Mithun, the architects behind many Google buildings, to create something new: a space that is meant to be a backdrop to Google's soft, minimal industrial design aesthetic. "This framework, it has fairly neutral colors. There's nothing so ingrained that we can't evolve," says Ross. "But being a blank canvas, what changes it is the products we're evolving, the materials, their color, and their function."

The entire Design Lab was designed to let in copious amounts of light, with other features including a color lab that, "features an ever-changing array of objects, collected by Google hardware designers on their travels."

As for some of the creative process that goes on in the building:

At a large white table inside the color lab, under carefully calibrated lights, Ross's team debates the next colorways for upcoming Google products. Once a week, designers from across categories—from wearables to phones to home electronics—gather around the table with scraps and samples in hand, to make product line decisions together.

The Design Lab is also home to a material lab, consisting of over 1,000 different material swatches, and "Human Refueling Stations" where designers can lie down and listen to music based on a mood they'd like to feel that's selected in a companion app.

We're expecting to see Google's latest hardware products, including the Pixel 4 and Pixelbook 2, later this fall. The Pixel 4 has drawn some controversy for its large forehead in a world that's pushing more and more for bezel-less phones, but we can't wait to see and use the phone in person to better understand the thought process that went into it from the design team.

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