Feelings Follow

Material searched the world for an escape from modernist design.

Ambient music plays as a circle draws around the word Form as a voice says, “Designers often say that form follows function.”

A flow chart connects Form with Follows and Function.

“It’s so obvious,” the voice continues, “But what if there’s more to form than just function? What if actually form follows feeling?”

Form is replaced with Feeling in a cursive scrawl. A paper envelope transforms into the Google Mail icon.

“Like at Google Design, we used to think screens should feel like paper.”

A piece of paper with lines of pretend words morphs into a digital page fitting the dimensions of a mobile device.

“Paper is a surface for information in the real world. Let's do the same in the digital world.”

Different digital pages stack up.

“It made sense, but it just turned into stacks and stacks of dead paper. So much paper!”

A desk is covered in piles of paperwork.

Someone examines the leaf on a tree branch and then runs through the forest.

“So, if paper is too limiting, what's the new material for our screens?” the voice asks.

Different flowers blur into each other.

“How do you breathe life into something without making it feel fake and cringey?”

The word Spirited appears in a large font filled with gradients and glitter.

“We asked ourselves, can pixels feel spirited?”

More letters spell out Making Material You and Google Design. Marbled liquid flows into darkness. Evening sky reflects in still water surrounded by large rocks.

“I saw folks on the team getting super excited and inspired by all kinds of far-flung ideas.”

Droplets collect on a leaf. A beetle walks over plants. Sea anemones move about underwater. An octopus glides over a reef.

“Octopus skin, pumped-up lowrider paint jobs, the way leaves rustle under your fingertips . . . you name it.”

Customized lowrider cars bounce with hydraulics. The leaf of a sensitive plant closes as someone touches it. Someone reaches out their arm as they run through tall grass. They twirl a bird feather in their hand.

“For example, we started working on the surface effect, a kind of erratic light pattern that was weird and beautiful. Early testers actually thought their screens were broken.”

The bird feather deconstructs into a star-filled sky. Colors move across the stars.

“To us, that was progress.”

A button appears and moves as if pressed, revealing an expanding ring of sparkles on its surface.

“Then we had this button prototype that squashed out when you touched it.”

Another button appears and moves as if pressed, transforming from a circle into a rectangle with round corners.

“What material is that even made of?”

The surface of water moves at the touch of someone’s fingertip.

“Water, oil, rubber, marshmallow?”

Someone squishes a marshmallow between two fingers and thumb.

“It was way more than function.”

The number buttons of a calculator screen are pressed and the field expands as numbers appear.

“It was so not minimal and not mechanical and not modern.”

The calculator numbers change colors and the word Spirit is typed in where the numbers should appear.

“It had spirit. We totally tossed what we thought we knew about clean, simple, pure, modern design.”

The words Clean, Simple, Pure, and Modern Design appear in a grid layout echoing the cover of Josef Müller-Brockmann's book Grid Systems in Graphic Design. The grid fragments into colorful, round shapes.

“We followed our feelings and stuff just came alive.”

Alive dances in a psychedelic font.

“It’s alive!” the voice says. “Our knee jerk. Default to minimalism was blocking us from this other world of play. Of things responding to each other. Dancing together.”

The home screen of a device shows a wallpaper with matching widgets for music player, clock, and news.

Digital device elements morph into each other. Someone looks at a butterfly on their finger.

The frame shrinks to the size of a mobile device, centering the butterfly behind a time display

“A world where form follows feeling and design is a full expression. Like you.”

The Google G logo appears

The music fades.