Ivy Ross + Suchi Reddy Explain Their Design Process For The First-Ever Google Store – COOL HUNTING®
Architect and designer Suchi Reddy (founder of the Reddymade Company) worked with Ivy Ross (VP of Google Material Design) and Nathan Allen (Head of Store Design and Google Special Projects) to achieve the the brand’s first ever physical retail store. Opened last month in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, the first Google Store lets visitors learn about their devices, whether it’s Nest, Pixel, FitBit or others, but also gives customers a better understanding the philosophy of these products and the software of Google. .
As they developed the landmark destination, Ross and Reddy ensured it would be LEED Platinum certified, the highest level of qualification, which includes the incorporation of furniture, fabrics, electrical systems, durable plumbing and mechanics, even the glue used in the flooring. . They’ve woven Google’s philosophy throughout the space, invoking augmented reality-like experiences to invite people into it all.
“I see it as a house,” Ross tells us just before exploring the store for the first time. “It’s a home for our products and of course if you want to be product aware then the house you put those products in has to live up to the same standards. Ross imagined the bright and open space divided and nuanced, innovative and timeless, as “part of installation, part of exploration and part of informative space.” We wondered how we could make all of these things come together in a beautiful sequence. “
This vision aligns with Reddymade’s guiding mantra, “form follows feeling,” and it’s an extension of the work Ross and Reddy did for Google during Milan Design Week 2019, which discusses the power of neuroesthetics. . The result in the Google Store is a feeling of calm and clarity upon entering.
Regarding overall ethics, Ross adds that there is a “sign inside that says’ here to help”, and really deep, deep inside, we all subconsciously wanted to send the message through. everything we’ve done with space, we’re here to help you, the customer, and we’re here to help anyone else who wants to learn more.
Conversations about the space began internally around 2016. Google then organized several successful pop-up stores in the United States. Ross began to keep track of the attributes she hoped a permanent store would represent. Based on their previous work, she had a feeling Reddymade might be a good fit for the larger-than-life task.
“Together, we brainstormed to write down the feelings the Google teams wanted to evoke in-store. One was wonder, the other was inspiration,” Reddy tells us. “It was. that warm and inviting idea, but it was also to present these products in this truly intimate way. ”To do this, they knew they had to work with the store’s long imprint and figure out how to liven up its individual areas.
The high windows were a first step. “We wanted to take that window facade and turn it into a double-sided retail business. I’m a maximizer, so I wanted it to work both from the outside and from the inside; to create this beautiful limit of products, ”says Reddy. From outside the store, passers-by will see display cases that tell sequestered vignettes of product stories. Inside, they act as another wall of discovery.
“The idea here was that not everyone knows what Google is doing yet, when it comes to physical things,” says Ross. “So we wanted to have these planters almost like Tiffany’s that you see in between.” A total of 18 boxes surround the building, each with its own story, including one on sustainability. It shares the story of their fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles, as well as the story of recycled aluminum in their phones.
Indoors, they have developed contextual spaces that show the products in versions of their home environment, but in an abstract way. There is a kitchen, a living room and a nursery of sorts. It’s more of a suggestion of these rooms, so that no one is overwhelmed by the aesthetics. “It was also extremely important,” says Ross, “that we found exactly the right shade of color that would create that really warm wrap so that when you walk in you really breathe out. [when] you enter space.
“Ivy and I are so interested in neuroesthetics and how space makes people feel,” says Reddy. “And given that it is a very long tunnel [format], it was important for us to create something that could serve as a beautiful leaf for these products. The driving force behind it all is really Ivy’s vision for what products really are, which is something with that warmer human touch. This led to the appearance of cork and various types of wood throughout the store.
These textures and a bond to durability act as guides for long term design direction. “It’s starting to restrict the range of materials we can work with and the type of sourcing we can do,” says Reddy, especially if LEED certification is an ongoing desire. “From the start it was, ‘How do we design this to really address how we make people feel?’ Because that is the goal of my work. Ivy’s work has also focused on the feel of the products, the way you hold them, how they fit in your hand. It’s really about being human-centered. From this angle, we tried to grow into the DNA of neuroesthetics. It is anchored in our way of thinking about space and matter.
Reddy winks at the soft curves found in space and the way they round off against the rigid rectilinear imprint. “There’s a lot of research on how curves make people more comfortable,” she says. “And when you get this really long and narrow space, we had to ask, ‘How do you introduce a curve into the space to make it softer? “”
From the Bolon floor, soft underfoot and aesthetic, to the cork furniture of Daniel Michalik (professor at Parsons), the various and disparate components unite with an undeniable cohesion, both visual and spiritual. Customers will also find that the space is not dominated by screens, which often distract more than educate in retail stores.
This kind of critical thinking connected the conversations about merchandising and the results set a new standard. “We have Nest products that are vertical,” says Ross. “They can’t just sit on a table. We knew we had to have them on a wall. For these, Reddy has developed jewelry boxes that highlight all Google products at a glance, so that “someone can come in and say, I’m here to set up my ecosystem, my home, and they can see all the products “. Ross explains. The installation space seems simple, but controlling cords, power, lighting and making it invisible wasn’t easy.
“I hate the way the pickets are organized at the start, but at the end of the day consumers chose them, and it’s always a mess,” Ross continues. “and so Suchi built this really nice way to have the Pixel cases on the outside of a little box, [where] consumers can see them, touch them and smell them, but when they want to buy, they touch that door that opens so they can take out one of the wrapped cases, ”says Ross.
Everything is under one angle that makes the whole physical experience easier. “There is so much technology and thought into all of this, [working] with Google’s retail marketing team to really think about how to get them to get the information they need, ”Reddy adds.
Some experiential rooms, developed with Deeplocal, allow deeper dives into certain products and capabilities, such as Stadia. A larger ‘workshop’ room will host “discussions and community events, but also serve as a space for associates to sit one-on-one with clients, and more intimately,” says Ross.
This room also has a screen. “We knew we needed a screen, so we found a place to put it away, where it’s not on your face,” says Ross. It could also serve as a backdrop for a stage. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the team envisioned it as a destination for YouTube performances or other gatherings.
For Stadia, Google’s streaming games platform, they have developed another dedicated space related to fun and functionality. “The idea was to make it look like you could have an environment in your house, in a playroom,” says Ross, “and functionally the trick was to make sure that the sound is fully directed so that no one overlaps. That’s what those bubbles are above each chair, because you can have three or four people playing different games. In many ways, it looks like the playroom of the future; textured and playful.
All of these pieces work together to profess a love for design that only the attention to detail reveals (the hanging glass tube feature, which showcases Google’s software design, for example). All in all, it is a nuanced and multisensory invitation to the brand. “Since this is Google’s first retail store, we wanted to have a place where we could showcase some of the magic of Google, which isn’t always visible around us,” Ross concludes. “The product experience here is not just the hardware, but the hardware and software together. It makes it whole.
Perhaps what excites us the most is that we are witnessing, first through Ross’s product design, and now through retail, the life of the physical design DNA of Ross. Google.
Images courtesy of Google