Google goes physical with New York’s first store
Google opens its first point of sale in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. We spoke to Ivy Ross, the company’s vice president of material design, user experience and research, who served as the store’s creative director, to learn more about Google’s shift to commerce. physical detail.
Google has opened the doors of its first physical store, conveniently located under its Manhattan headquarters in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Spanning a bustling block of Ninth Avenue, the expansive retail space not only offers a holistic view of Google’s entire range of consumer hardware, which spans from its Pixel phones and portable devices. Fitbit to Nest Audio speakers, Stadia gaming consoles, and Pixelbooks, it also provides a welcoming but detailed look at how all of these products can work seamlessly with other Google services.
“You can learn about products only online, but when you get into a physical space one of the things you really want to understand, especially in a Google store, is that one plus one can equal four; what if i combine these things? “Said Ivy Ross, vice president of material design, user experience and company research, and judge of the 2021 Wallpaper * Design Awards.” There are a lot of individual experiences, but we have really thought long and hard about [bringing] offline and online together. People can come and get a box off the shelf and buy it, but what experience can we give them that they might not fully understand if you are just shopping online. ‘
New York Google Store: bringing together experiences
Refined from lessons learned from launching retail pop-ups since 2016, Google’s first store playfully brings together a range of experiences to appeal to large audiences.
“Google is a great learning organization, so we really experimented to find out what works and what doesn’t,” Ross continues. “We saw where people spent most of their time, and they wanted these different experiences. We started by brainstorming with my team and marketing, then with architect Suchi Reddy, we defined the base of the must-haves, like an office ‘here to help’, and added how we could make it special. and feel Google. We really wanted to make it a discovery and almost have an exploratory feel. The idea was to make people feel at home and relaxed, not overly stimulated but also curious. ‘
Google store interiors
A display of interactive product-based Discovery Boxes, which allow visitors to better understand the inner workings of each product
As visitors enter the glass-enclosed industrial space, they are greeted by an inviting and neutral interior constructed from tactile and natural materials. Sustainability is a key goal here, so much so that the space has received a Leed Platinum certification. Some of the design details include wood veneer walls made from responsibly sourced hickory, energy efficient light fixtures, and interface carbon neutral flooring that has been deployed throughout. Even construction processes and mechanical systems have been subjected to rigorous evaluation to reflect the entire company’s commitment to sustainability. Cork, a sustainable and renewable material, has been incorporated into the boutique furniture designed by Daniel Michalik, creating the feel of an adaptable blank canvas that still exudes warmth and texture.
“We did this specifically because we wanted it to be very neutral and for everyone to project that this could be their space,” says Ross, while explaining the thinking behind the store’s so-called sandboxes. , where the products are presented in real-life scenarios. “We have a kitchen, living room and children’s area that present furniture suggestions in the abstract. There are screenings that simulate a day in the life of. You see the sun come in through the window, someone knocks on the door and someone drops off a package and they tell you what to do to find out how the products fit together. ‘
A detail of a discovery box with the Nest hub and doorbell, viewed from the exterior storefront of Google’s retail space in Chelsea
Around the periphery of the space, interactive product displays known as the Discovery Box feature animated visuals that allow visitors to understand the inner workings of each offering. Ross says, “In these spaces you can get the attribute layers of the product. It’s about everything from individual functions to how three products can work together. ‘
In addition to an entire Nest product gallery wall (showcasing all 35 products) and gathering space for education and events, the store also features a 17-foot-tall circular glass structure that houses an imaginative space made up of personalized interactive screens. Opening with an exhibit designed around Google Translate, visitors can experience real-time translation of their speech into 24 languages and hear the results whispered to them.
“There are people who will immediately look for a seller and others who will want to explore on their own. People have different learning styles and I wanted to make sure you didn’t need to have a salesperson to be able to start playing, ”Ross concludes. “It’s all about options and the good news is that all the things that people care about most since the pandemic, the store had embodied them regardless. This is the spirit in which we design the material. It’s human, it’s fun and it’s smart. §