Becoming Part of Your Life: Google and Robert Wong
Editor’s note: This profile originally appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of re:D, the magazine for Parsons alumni and the greater Parsons community.
Robert Wong, BFA ‘90
School of Art, Media, and Technology
Realizing that an accounting career was not for him, Robert Wong quit his undergraduate program and moved to New York City to study design. On impulse, he chose communication design. “It sounded like something I could do for the rest of my life,” he says.
Time has confirmed that Wong’s instincts were right: Over the past two decades, he’s won recognition for redefining his field and creating Web tools used by millions of people worldwide.
As chief creative officer of Google Creative Lab, Wong develops engaging campaigns that illustrate the way Google products are woven into our lives. The Web short Parisian Love, aired during the Super Bowl, shows a succession of Google searches charting the history of an intercontinental romance. For the interactive video The Wilderness Downtown, set to music by Arcade Fire, Wong experimented with Google Maps and the Chrome browser. The idea was born when his team used Google Maps to show Win Butler, Arcade Fire’s singer, Street View images of his childhood home.
Wong’s success comes from understanding how technology can support all kinds of creativity. “It’s about human potential,” he says. “Engineers build this amazing technology, and we figure out how it can fit into people’s lives.” This perspective guides Wong’s leadership at Google. “I want to create the best environment for the world’s most talented creatives to make work with the greatest impact.”
Wong guided the creation of The Wilderness Downtown for the Arcade Fire song “We Used to Wait.” Made using Google’s Chrome browser, Google Maps’ Street View, and HTML5, the award-winning interactive video foregrounds technology’s emotive potential by taking viewers on an animated trip back to their childhood neighborhoods.