1960s/70s Italian industrial design was led by Olivetti, featuring products with “touches of joy that enliven everyday tasks” featuring bright color and playful forms, very different from the Braun look of minimalist, “Snow White” gadgets that are the precursor to Apple’s design language.
If Apple is a 21st century Braun, then Google is positioning itself as a 21st century Olivetti, with new hardware that is colorful, with “lively, even playful, personalities.”
Designer Sottsass said about his Praxis 48:
“The entire machine can be understood as a kind of inside joke: it aims to be a bit funny, joyous but also precious. It engenders a way of looking at mechanics as if you were looking at a toy rather than a real machine: it aims to be an object we are happy to look at, one we approach without fear and without thinking ‘I must get to work’.”
It’s this sense of humor (which doesn’t tip over in to becoming a kitschy one-liner) that we rarely see in product design any more, so it’s great to see Google picking up this mantle — especially given Google’s heavy engineering focus on design in the past, this makes it all the more unexpected.
Google and the Resurgence of Italian Design
(via Beyond the Beyond)