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Google designers explain Material Design goals, Android Wear, and more in new interview


After an interview this morning on how Google came up with idea for Material Design, Google vice president of design Matias Duarte sat down with The Verge for another interview. In the talk, Duarte discussed a variety of things that Google set out to achieve with Android “L” and the Material design aspect of it.

With Material Design, Duarte says the company set out to create “metaphorical material” that was like magical paper. To come up with the design of “L,” the company imagined cards on a surface as the slide around. Google wanted to create something that appeared like “real, tangible objects.” Google also heavily changed the color and font scheme in Android “L” as part of Material Design. Despite the vibrant and bold color changes, Duarte still believes that Android has the sense of continuity that it set out to create with Jelly Bean and KitKat.

Nicholas Jitkoff, who works on the Search design team at Google compared the colors in Android “L” to the Google homepage. .

“As a whole the platform conveys this feeling of polychromacy,” Jitkoff says, “it’s colorful in a way that the logo is colorful, it’s simple in a way that the front page is simple.”

Another area that Google and Duarte focused heavily on with Material Design was unifying its thinking and having contrasts and parameters to work within. Having contrasts, Duarte explained, made designing Android “L” much easier and more consistent. Google, again, used the card metaphor for this by imagining flipping a card over to see what’s on the back. Google didn’t want to have something like that in Material Design, so it didn’t allow it inside the parameters it set.

Duarte went on to explain that humans are naturally capable of comprehending physical things. Software, he claims, generally breaks human habits and is therefore difficult to understand, especially early-on.

“We’re not hurtling you through space at high speeds. We’re not puncturing your hand with invisible, impossible surfaces. Design is all about finding solutions within constraints,” Duarte says, “If there were no constraints, it’s not design — it’s art.”

With Material Design, Google also set out to automate the experience for users. The company has done this with its Google Now service recently by not requiring users to input too much information and the service still pulling in everything users need. Duarte explained that, with Android “L,” he wants users to be able to trust that Google will show them what they want to see, at the right time. A similar philosophy was applied to Android Wear and the idea that you can’t do much with it except view and manage notifications. Alex Faaborg, an Android Wear designer, said the following:

“With watches, you don’t want to spend a lot of time interacting with it. You just want to be able to glance down and see information and quickly do a voice command.” He says it’s “in the same spirit as a lot of the work that we did for Google now, but it’s for the entire platform.”

Finally, Duarte explained that with Material Design, Google’s end goal is to create a model that everyone can understand, both in software and real life. There’s more to it than just Android “L” and Android Wear. Google has big plans for Material Design, and those two categories are just the beginning.

“We’re at the very beginning of this.What if we could design for the materials of the future instead of the materials of today?” Duarte asks. “That future is right around the corner.”

You can read the entire piece on The Verge’s site.

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