Google probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think about startup mentality. Today, the tech behemoth is one of the most valuable and powerful brands in the world, infiltrating our daily lives through advances in everything from search engine to cloud computing and, more recently, AI. Recognising the value of thinking like a startup though is arguably part of the company’s enduring success, as illustrated by its longstanding experimental offshoot Google Creative Lab.
Based all over the world, the lab comprises a small but scrappy team of designers, writers, programmers, filmmakers, animators and producers who are tasked with one job: to make stuff. While the team’s work shows up in many ways, including prototypes, products, documentaries, and experiences, its mission is always to bring the best of Google into the hands of as many people as possible. Given its broad remit, it’s no surprise that the lab has attracted an array of talent from across the creative industries over the years, including the co-founder of Poke (and now Food) Iain Tait, and former ECD Steve Vrakanis, who has also held lofty titles such as chief creative officer of Greece.
So what is it actually like to work at one of the world’s most famous ‘startups’? Fresh from their recent talk at Offf Barcelona, CR caught up with three of the team – motion designers Riley Yankowich, JR Schmidt and Nicola Gastaldi – to find out. “What sums up perfectly the Creative Lab mission is what is now Google marketing’s mission statement: Know the user, know the magic, connect the two,” says Gastaldi.