Google employs people to invent colours – and they think their work improves your wellbeing

What’s that smell? It could be Oh So Orange, Clearly White or Almost Black

Google has revealed it employs people to invent colours and give them silly names, too.

The internet giant today detailed the work of Isabelle Olsson, leader of Google’s “Color, Materials and Finish team.”

The missive does make the sensible point that as computers come off the desk and into homes, a splash of colour makes a difference.

Or as Olsson puts it: "We really believe that color, material and finish affect your wellbeing."

She has some other interesting things to say, too, namely:

  • “Color is the foundation for living. Look at flowers, some of which evolved to look bright to attract bees. There’s something about color that reminds us we are alive.”
  • “We try to live with the objects and the colors we design. For instance, when we design something for the home, be it a new color or a new shape, we place it on a shelf. Then every day for a week we walk past it, and we start seeing things we didn’t previously see.”
  • “… in the studio, we have drawers for these things from all over the world organized by materials. We even have one that’s labeled ‘organic,’ and that’s always fun to open because you never know what you’re going to find. Sometimes it’s stones but sometimes I’m like, What’s that smell?”

She also details how Google’s Pixel Buds wireless earphones ended up in a hue called “Quite Mint”.

“We had this vision of this little dot floating in your ear. It’s almost like little candies, so we had bowls of candy in the studio for inspiration,” she opened. Next came the notion that a wearable needs to look good next to different coloured skin, hair and clothes, followed by the following revelation: “We knew we could love a color when we looked at it, but what happens when it goes in the ear?”

Which produced a long list of 100 colours and 25 candidates, before the process used personal whims, as follows:

For a while we had two dark neutrals and I thought, Wait a minute, that seems like a wasted opportunity. That’s how we brought back the green color, Quite Mint, which is my favorite and hadn't made the cut at first.

There’s plenty more of this stuff in the post, including the official names for colours in the new Pixel Buds: “So Orange, Clearly White and Almost Black.” ®


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