The evolution of emojis

From crying with joy to the flirty aubergine, emojis have become engrained in our everyday discourse. We speak to Google’s emoji program Creative Director, Jennifer Daniel, about how they are helping shape keyboard culture

Emojis have come a long way since the late 90s, when 25-year-old designer Shigetaka Kurita was first tasked with creating a series of ‘picture characters’ for Japanese telecomms company NTT DOCOMO’s software i-mode, which was primarily used for pagers and emails.

Kurita’s original designs are now part of MoMA’s permanent collection, while over 3,000 emojis have been approved by the Unicode Consortium – the non-profit that oversees all emoji proposals – arguably making it the fastest-growing language in history.


Over the last few years the emoji has also become synonymous with smashing societal stereotypes. 2016 saw the addition of women scientists and mechanics, while this year’s suite of emoji updates includes people with various disabilities, a gender inclusive couple, and emojis which show people with a mix of skin tones holding hands.