Google industrial designer Alberto Villarreal talks hardware, mole and marathons

By Newsroom America Feeds at 11 Oct 2017

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating the fascinating stories and important contributions of our Hispanic Googlers—their histories, their families, and what keeps them busy inside and outside of work. Next up is Alberto Villarreal, creative lead for hardware and student of his wife (a historian) and 6-year-old daughter, who teach him about history and how to speak German, respectively.

Give us the 10-second version of what you do at Google.

I lead a team of industrial designers responsible for defining the creative direction of Google’s hardware mobile devices. We launched our latest work—the Pixel 2 phone, the Pixelbook laptop and PixelBook Pen—last week. 

What is your favorite Mexican tradition or food?

I’m a big big fan of curry in general, so mole is my favorite Mexican dish. Mole is basically a type of curry sauce, just with different ingredients than the Indian or Thai curries. It’s a perfect example of my sweet yet spicy personality. In this photo, I'm holding an original molcajete that we brought over from Mexico when we moved here—we use it to make salsa from scratch. It was from my grandma and I inherited it when she passed away at the age of 101.

How did you find your way to Google?

I am originally from Mexico City, and moved to the U.S. four years ago to work on the Nexus hardware team, which has evolved into the mobile industrial design team under the Hardware design group. Growing up in a vibrant city with a mix of cultures (the hyper-modern and the ancient traditions co-existing), shaped my method of problem-solving and tackling challenges. One of the most interesting challenges of my job is translating Google’s brand values—being “approachable,” for example—into physical objects.

You just helped launch the Pixel 2—what’s your favorite feature?

The Pixel’s power button has a pop of color, which I love. It’s a touch of optimism and a way to visually guide the user, so that the button is easy to find.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

With my wife and 6-year-old daughter. Otherwise I spend a lot of time running. I’ve been an avid mid-distance runner for over 25 years, but lately I’ve been training more seriously for my first full marathon in Ventura, CA, at the end of the month.

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