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How Google’s head of hardware design, Ivy Ross, makes gadgets feel approachable

How Google’s head of hardware design, Ivy Ross, makes gadgets feel approachable
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


As the head of Google’s hardware design team, Ivy Ross is consumed by a single question: “When you hold Google in your hands, what does it look and feel like?” In everything from the Daydream VR headset to the Google Home speaker, the former jewelry designer has pioneered the soft, round, often fabric-covered aesthetic that is now recognizable as Google’s own. Last year, Ross’s team launched four products, including the Pixel Slate tablet-laptop, the Google Home Hub assistant with a screen, and the Pixel 3, the most fully realized example of Ross’s vision of approachable, accessible industrial design. This third-generation phone features a two-tone back made of polished and etched glass, modern colors like the coyly named “not pink” (which is definitely a millennial-approved shade), and a pastel-green power button—a tiny surprise for users. “We want to make sure [our products] feel human,” Ross says. According to Strategy Analytics, shipments of Pixel phones increased 43% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2018, after the Pixel 3 launched.

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