On Wednesday, January 27, 2016, the team of Google Creative Lab gave a group lecture to a sold out audience at the Parsons Auditorium to explore the process within the world’s most ubiquitous web-based conglomerate. Koen Malfait, Creative Director at Google Creative Lab, described his team as “an in-house creative division of Google, inspired by Ocean’s 11, and a kick-ass mega agency within Google made up of writers, designers, animators, producers, film makers, engineers and so much more.” Finding a clear definition of what “the lab” is, or what they do, is far from straightforward.
Google’s mission, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” drives the team to focus on “access.” The team’s job is to take the amazing products built by Google engineers, and find creative ways to make them accessible to everyone. Koen defined his team’s role within the organization very simply “to bring the toys to the kids.” He explained that while Google’s technology is very exciting, getting it into the hands of regular people takes a lot of work. “The lab sits between our massive company and the people who use our products,” he said.
Everyone at Google Creative Lab spends 99% of their time “making,” rather than “selling,” or “strategizing.” Employees come up with ideas, and immediately begin making them into reality. About 50% of their time is spent working on projects of their own creation, and the other 50% is spent working on projects requested for by other Google divisions.
Google Creative Lab was formed in 2009. One of the first projects was the video, Parisian Love, a short film that tells the story of a young man’s life through his Google searches. This project, a concept first envisioned by one of the Google 5 (the lab has 5 interns per year), helped to solidify the lab as a valuable asset within the company, paving the way for many years of creative videos, installations, posters, and much more.
The team shared five guiding principles observed by all employees of the lab.
Be the stage, not the star
We exist not to steal the spotlight, but to let everyone know about the cool “toys” that Google is making which in turn will allow the people of the world to organize, create, and share.
Think bigger than yourself
We must realize that we are solving problems for people all around the world. This means that sometimes a problem may not seem to be worth solving to us, yet finding a solution can create a dramatic difference in the life of someone in Brazil.
Speak to me, like a human
We are tasked with taking sophisticated, powerful technology and making it accessible to everyone, and everyone’s grandmother.
Jump to the end
We always keep the end in mind, knowing that one day our users will move on, finding a different or better solution to their problems. How can we be mindful of this and possibly prevent it?
Life > Tech
We should never lose sight of the fact that life is a precious gift, and it is never more important than the technology we create.
The evening concluded with a thoughtful Q+A session. Thanks to the speakers from the Google Creative Lab for a fun, informative and inspiring evening.
Special thanks to contributing writer Christopher Holewski for the AIGA/NY An Evening with Google Creative Lab event recap and photos. Christopher Holewski is an Art Director at JK Design and can be found at behance.net/cholewski
Join AIGA/NY for a rare look behind the scenes of Google Creative Lab. Find out what happens when you send a varied group of ambitious creatives on a mission to improve people’s lives by combining creativity, technology and a significant amount of empathy.
We will be walking through a few of the Lab’s latest projects and learn what happens when you spend 99.9% of your time making.
Google Creative Lab is a team of designers, writers, programmers, film makers, producers and business thinkers whose mission is to remind the world what it is they love about Google. A team crazy enough to think they can actually change the world.