Google is making its Salone del Mobile debut, intertwining hardware with soft intuition in an immersive multi-room installation curated by Dutch trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort inside the multiple rooms of Rossana Orlandi’s gallery.
Two years ago, Google launched its first range of hardware products, Made by Google. The second suite of products were then released last year, including headphones, laptop and Pixel 2. Now, Google is immersing itself in the design circuit by taking on the biggest week of the calendar. ‘Designing and producing our own hardware is a relatively new venture for us and something that is not widely known about especially globally,’ says Ivy Ross, Google’s vice president of hardware design, on why the tech giants decided to show at Milan Design Week. ‘We believe that having a presence at Salone del Mobile and sharing our point of view is a great opportunity to connect with others especially in the design industry.’
The relationship between Google and Edelkoort has been long term, and in a meeting last year, Ross remembers that ‘[Li] remarked how we were actually delivering on something she had forecasted back in 1998… she was thrilled that in many ways, we were bringing that forecast to life without even realising it.’ This was a lifestyle forecast that predicted a new way of engaging with technology, for it to seamlessly exist in our lives.
Wallhangings by Kiki van Eijk that feature Google’s hardware in a soft existance
The feeling is mutual with Edelkoort, ‘[Ross] is the most human-driven art director I have ever encountered,’ she says, noting that Google embraces textiles in the creative process, and this is akin to her own design ethos – ‘where high-tech and slow-craft come together as one.’
The Google event, titled ‘Softwear’ , will display the tech hardware amongst everyday objects in various lifestyle scenarios. This will be accompanied by bespoke wall hangings by the designer Kiki van Eijk that will encapsulate the different Google products, to create a ‘modern cocoon,’ as decribed by van Eijk, ‘a shell of protection in which we can live with honesty and fulfilment.’
‘Softwear’ aims to prompt a conversation about the future of technology and its place in our lives. ‘We believe that technology is here to stay,’ Ross comments, ‘so we must design it in a way that allows it to fit into our lives seamlessly, as opposed to getting in the way. Li has curated the exhibition in a way that brings that idea to life through different mediums.’