Today, Google announces the newest addition to its home lineup—Google Home Hub. Geared more than ever towards the design lover, it’s the first of the collection to feature a screen that changes to fit its surroundings.
There’s a new movement in the realm of product design, and it’s giving rise to products that solve real-life problems while simultaneously manifesting beauty and joy in a space. Smart devices, which once targeted tech aficionados, now also consider how the user feels; and functional items act as extensions of personal style. Google’s new smart speaker, the Google Home Hub, is a prime example, marrying advanced capabilities with an approachable look that blends into the home.
The mastermind behind the device is Isabelle Olsson, director of design for home, wearables and CMF at Google, whose transformative thinking has redefined the way products are designed and experienced. “If it’s not beautiful, it doesn’t belong in your home,” she says. Here, she sits down with us to discuss the Hub and the future of design.
Hub shares the same principles as the rest of the company’s home products, but adds a visual component—this is Google’s first-ever smart speaker with a screen. “It brings to life the notion that the information you need is just a glance away and doesn’t interrupt your daily flow of things,” explains Olsson.
Channeling her Swedish heritage, and a culture based on the notion of inclusive design, she hones in on “listening and finding a balance that works for everyone.” She brings up the concept of lagom, which translates to a perfect balance. “I’ve taken this idea and applied it to my work as a designer—always striving to find balance of trade offs, inputs, and requirements.”
For Hub, this meant making a product that delivers additional value but is small in size, taking up the least amount of space so it fits easily in a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom in a studio or house—while also being visually pleasing. What makes it truly unique is its ability to automatically detect and match over 16 million combinations of light and color in any room via the Ambient EQ light sensor, so photos on the device blend in with its surrounding decor. It also dims to match darker lighting conditions, so there won’t be a glowing screen in the way of intimate settings or bedtime.
The team takes pride in having their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in adjacent industries—particularly decor. Each year they head to the Milan Furniture Fair to spark inspiration. When designing Hub, they worked with materials and colors based on items most people already have at home. A white border around the screen mimics how traditional artwork is framed, and Google Photos automatically adds new images, avoiding duplicates and blurry shots. Live albums can also be shared with loved ones, and you can easily pull up photos from a specific event by asking, “Hey Google, show my pictures from the Grand Canyon.”
Hub is available in four context-aware hues including sand, aqua, charcoal, and chalk. “Sand is a warm color that works beautifully with wood surfaces but can be contrasted if placed on a white surface,” she explains. “On the other hand, Aqua is a cool color that feels fresh.”
See the full story on Dwell.com: