Unknown Android. Chapter 8: Irina Blok

In 1995, when the logo’s author Irina Blok was eighteen, her family moved from St. Petersburg to the US. Irina’s parents were engineers, but she went for a designer’s degree. Somewhat of a tumbleweed, here today and gone tomorrow, Irina was a part of Google’s creative team for a while. Her task was to develop a logo for the Android Open Source Project that would, first of all, feel right at home with software developers. Irina dove headfirst into the world of sci-fi videogames and space movies, hoping to find the perfect image there, but in the end the mundane, everyday life proved to be a better source of inspiration: the precursors of the Android logo are actually the “ladies and gents” pictograms on the WC doors.

The reason why the logo is a robot is, of course, Andy Rubin’s obsession with robotics that Google put to good use, but the color selection might be a little less evident. If you think of the cyberpunk movies of the 90’s you’ll recall that data streams were usually depicted as green characters on a black background (for example, in “The Matrix”); by this logic, the color green can be considered the color of open-source software, even though Blok’s favorite is a bright shade of pink.

Blok doesn’t harbor one-sided devotion to Android: she had her share of jobs for Apple and owns phones running both platforms. The designer’s neutral stance allows her to admit that in the beginning, using Android was anything but convenient, but in the more recent years it has made enormous progress in terms of UI.

The logo, true to the idea of its platform, is open to numerous improvements. As Blok herself says, the logo has to carry the essence of its product and tell the story of its life. And as Android is an open platform, it was only natural to make the logo open to various tweaks.

The realization that the logo she created hit it big came to Blok three times. First, she saw a person fully dressed as Android skiing down a mountain. Then she found out that the new KitKat version release was promoted by the same-name major candy company using her creation.

The third time happened in 2010, when she and her 6-year-old daughter were in a movie theater waiting for “Alice in Wonderland” to begin when an Android logo flashed on the screen. Her daughter, Blok recalls, suddenly stood up and yelled, “My mommy invented that!”, so everyone in the row in front of them turned around to stare. “Creating the logo was like raising a child: you give a life to this individual, and then they have a life of their own”, says Blok.

Irina began her career in 1998 as a brand designer in the Landor Associates studio where she helped shape the identity of companies like Hewlett Packard, Visa and FedEx. Since then, her track record that includes jobs in Yahoo, Adobe and Apple has only grown bigger.

In September 2009, Irina, like many others during that time, took a big career break to try her hand in clothing and accessory design. Irina released a topical series of t-shirts and badges called Funemployed that picked on the issues of downsizing and employment, and this project was highly regarded by numerous media including the French Elle magazine. Her experiments continued with a series of anti-swine flu hygiene masks and the I Love Blocks jewelry series. Now Irina is a senior designer in the Zendesk SaaS company, and you can trace her further progress in her LinkedIn profile that’s updated once in a year and a half or so.

Personality
Irina Blok
Android