Design Week Portland and event organizers welcomed the creative minds from Google to several of the festival programs this year. In addition to Google's participation in the Career Day program for high school students, Josh Lovejoy from People + AI Research (PAIR) joined the Empathy, Bots, & the Future of AI panel, and Oren Haskins from Google Daydream spoke about parallels between the 20th century and today's technological revolution as a panelist at Following the Mid-century Masters. In this interview with Oren, we learn more about the work he does for Google, and designing for VR/AR.

Oren Haskins is an illustrator and designer working for the Immersive Arts team at Google Daydream. Oren hails from the UK where he worked as freelance illustrator in advertising and animation. Before joining Google, Oren worked as character designer on the Emmy award winning VR film, Pearl. Most recently, his designs were seen in AR Stickers, a Pixel phone exclusive launched last December. Oren’s passion for characters, illustration, design, film, and photography has found a great home at Daydream working to bring charming and expressive design to new technology.

DWP: Could you please tell us a little about the work you do as a Concept Artist for Google Daydream?

Oren: I work on the Immersive Arts team at Daydream. We are a design team that works on VR and AR projects across Google. My work has a strong emphasis on character design which has put me in an incredibly fun position of bringing AR characters to life.

DWP: How has your process changed working for VR/AR?

Oren: My first experience with VR was with the spotlight stories film Pearl. The challenge was translating the technical limitations of smartphone-based VR into design choices that looked deliberate rather than hindered by the technology. Recently, my work has been focused on AR, and the biggest change to my workflow has been learning 3D. My background is in 2D concept art and illustration, but I recently rolled 3D into my toolset to have more control over the many design decisions made in translating a 2D illustration into 3D.

DWP: What has the transition been like from working as a freelance illustrator and designer to having access to the collaborative teams and resources at Google?

Oren: It’s been fantastic. I’m so lucky to have found kindred spirits and people that I trust on my team at Google, and it's been very exciting to collaborate with other teams working on cutting-edge projects.

DWP: You were a panelist at Following the Mid-century Masters. What inspiration do you draw from that period in your own work?

Oren: For me, there was something about the 50s and 60s that represented a pinnacle in creative output. It is no wonder that it is referenced so heavily today from industrial design to fashion. One of the benefits in growing up around a creative family is that I got to be exposed to an eclectic collection of art and books from mid-century designers, photographers, and artists. I found a craftsmanship and elegance mixed with fun and charm that I try to embody in my own work.

Many thanks to Google for joining us! Stay tuned to The Journal in the coming months for an interview with Josh Lovejoy and a recap of the Empathy, Bots, & the Future of AI event.