The Humanoid Behind the Android
By Robin Roberts
It took Irina Blok just minutes to create an image that would land her a lifetime of recognition: as the designer of Android’s little green robot. “Yes, it took me five minutes to create the logo, but it took my whole life of design training to get there,” says Blok from her home in San Francisco.
Growing up in Russia, she displayed a creative streak, attending numerous arts classes, and, eventually St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. When she was 18, her family moved to the United States, where she enrolled in San Jose State University’s Graphic Design Program. After graduation, she worked at Landor Associates as a brand designer for clients like HP, Visa, H&R Block and FedEx. That led to positions at Yahoo, Google and Adobe.
While at Google in 2007, as part of the launch campaign for the Android operating system, she conjured the concept that has become one of the tech world’s most recognizable icons. “The main idea was to capture the essence of the open-source Android platform while humanizing the brand,” she explains. “The logo needed to relate to the name. There were some other concepts, but this logo really stood out.”
No kidding. Mr. Roboto went viral at Google before it even became the official mark. “I never dreamed this would become a huge consumer facing brand,” she says. (In fact, this October marks the five-year anniversary of the HTC Dream smart phone, the first to use the Android operating system). Originally, the logo was intended only for the developer community, which is partly why she chose green for the design, the original code colour used by old-fashioned terminals.
And, as an open-source logo, the image has been modified into millions of incarnations. “There’s a skiing Android, Android toys, Dancing Android, Sarah Palin Android,” says Blok, now Creative Director at Edmodo, a social platform for the education industry. “I think these are hilarious.”
What tickles her most these days is the thrill she gets every time she passes the huge Android statue near Google’s headquarters. “I feel like a proud mom,” she says of her little green baby.