Method Podcast, Episode 12

Material Design director Rich Fulcher on Google’s approach to design systems, and why customization drove the latest Material release

In this episode, Aidan Simpson interviews Material Design director Rich Fulcher about the latest Material release—unveiled during Google I/O 2018—including why and how the team added new, more customizable features to the design system. The duo also discuss the evolution of design tools, and what it means to design for users who are themselves designers and developers. Want to learn more about the journeys and creative decisions of designers at Google? Subscribe to the Method podcast on Google Play, iTunes, RSS, or Spotify.

On considering a design system’s multiple layers of users, 1:30 “You have the designers and developers who are going to utilize the system that you’re producing. They’re going to look at the guidance, they’re going to look at the code that you’re building, and they’re going to use that to satisfy the needs of their users in turn. That hierarchy of users is always a tricky thing to get one’s mind around.”

On the ever-evolving state of design, 9:15 “We have this saying on our team. We say, ‘design is never done,’ and I think we feel that in our hearts all of the time.”

On the challenges of building a design system, 14:27 “I think some designers approach design systems as, ‘Oh, they’re making all my decisions for me—they’re taking my authorship away.’ We very much don’t think that way. We’re trying to provide a well-lighted path of good decisions you can make.”

Rich Fulcher is the director of the Material Design team. He works with a multi-disciplinary group of designers, researchers, writers, and engineers to improve and evolve Material Design. Earlier this month, Rich presented the latest Material release onstage at Google I/O.