Earlier this week, I read an interesting article in the New York Times about shokunin kishitsu, or the 'craftsman's spirit.' The craftsman's spirit in Japanese culture basically appeals to all of us, regardless of vocation, to aspire to beauty in everything we do and create.
As we collaborated with artists around the globe to create themes for Google Chrome, we hope that bringing art from different cultures into the modern browser expresses some of that spirit. We've enjoyed hearing your thoughts on these designs and how you've used them to personalize your browser. For a friend who emailed me recently, the Hedgehog in the Fog theme brought back fond memories of his Russian childhood and the intrepid Yozhik (as the hedgehog is affectionately known in Russia). This Google Chrome theme is based on the 1975 animated film, which incidentally won "No.1 Animated film of all time" at the 2003 Laputa Animation Festival.
Beauty can be based on a heart-warming 34-year-old animation that makes us nostalgic, or cultural references that makes us who we are today. Our friends working on Google Chrome in Tokyo pointed us to a few Google Chrome themes that resonate with our users in Japan. These themes are based on a modern-day, participatory culture of remixing ideas. Take for example, the Google Chrome theme from global virtual pop star Hatsune Miku. Hatsune Miku began as a character in a vocal synthesis software package from Sapporo-based Crypton Future Media. But as musicians and artists created a body of work, including songs, drawings and animation for Hatsune Miku, she became a best-selling recording artist in Japan!
If you're curious for more, you can get a taste of Google Chrome themes from Japan, including TENORI-ON, Yamaha's nifty 16x16 visual musical instrument; the classic game Super Monkey Ball from Sega, and tea-loving ninjas Nintea from designer Panson Works and anime company Toei Animation (of Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon fame):
For the craftsmen -- the engineers -- working on Google Chrome around the globe, shokunin kishitsu provides lots of food for thought, as we continue to build on a browser designed to be fast, simple, and beautiful for users.
In the spirit of what our Japanese colleagues call "速い + ART" (or, speed + art), we'd like to leave you with a new video (with a surprise ending). Check it out at youtube.com/googlechromethemes, or by clicking on the image below.