Google's Ivy Ross believes hardware design should be more "human," a response given by Ross when Google sat down with her for an interview recently to discuss how hardware design is approached within the company. Ross leads Google's hardware design team, and when it comes to designing hardware Ross mentions that an important factor is ensuring that the products not only look good while holding them in your hands but that they also feel good. Products should be "easy to fit into your life and your home," according to Ross, something which she feels is very well-stated with the use of fabric on some of Google's most recent products, such as the Google Home Mini and Home Max, as well as the second generation of the Daydream View headset.
Some of these more "human" design concepts and ideas can be seen in the images below, which showcase Ross and others collaborating on how to make Google's newest hardware products visually appealing without losing the inviting design that makes people want to either pick them up or interact with them by touch. This design philosophy applies to any hardware product that Google currently has on the market and will likely have on the market in the future.
Ross believes that soft and tactile three-dimensional shapes are something which consumers are going to crave. From the soft feel of the fabric on the Google Home Mini to the silicone pad on the Pixelbook, every design decision for Google's hardware has a focus on making things look and feel pleasing to the user. Not just pleasing though, but "emotionally appealing, and friendly." For anyone interested in how Google comes to the decisions it does with its hardware, some of the images below give a glimpse at just how much work goes into designing a product. Ross notes that some products which look the simplest visually were the toughest to design, highlighting the Google Home Mini specifically and stating that its use of the fabric posed more than a couple of challenges, including making sure that acoustics and other functionality of the speaker weren't lost in the process of designing something that looked good.
Another good example of the design process can be seen in the first image. In it, multiple iterations of the Pixel 2 can be seen laid on the table next to each other, some versions with a more boxy shape to the corners before finally reaching the end design that you can now see on the Pixel 2 which you can order and have delivered to your doorstep. This paints a picture of the evolving design that led Google to the phone you see now. In another image you can see the design team testing different fabrics for the inside and outside of cases for the Pixel lineup of smartphones. Another shows different iterations of the Pixelbook and its accompanying pen being decided on, while the last one shows two employees going over a white board filled with different ideas and concepts about how to improve the design of the Daydream View. For anyone interested in design in general this is good insight into what the process actually entails. For those who are simply fans of Google's hardware, though Google's products may look more minimalist, this should make it clear that even Google's minimalist-looking products require a lot of thought when it comes to design, from colors, to more rounded edges, to various fabrics and materials.