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Tea Uglow battled and broke beyond the bonds of expectation as she fully evolved into herself—creating a universe of brilliant, future-facing work in the process. 

It’s hard to describe exactly what Tea Uglow does. But know this: She has your dream job. Within Google, as has been said before, she is, essentially, paid to play.

The gig didn’t come easily. Uglow started as a Fine Art student, came across design and navigated the tides of the Dotcom boom and Dotcom bust, and then grabbed the laptop from her severance package and taught herself HTML. She bounced around a few design jobs, and then happened upon a one-month contract position to make Powerpoints for the sales team at Google.

… And then she founded Google’s Creative Lab in Europe.

How? In this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman explores just that—and, of course, digs into what Uglow does today as creative director of Google’s Creative Lab in Sydney.

Uglow’s work may not be the easiest thing to nail down in a nutshell, and it’s best seen in action. So here we present a tapestry of Tea, from her personal writings to a medley of her striking projects that reveal the key to her meteoric rise and all the rest of it: her raw brilliance.

—Zachary Petit, Design Matters Media Editor-in-Chief
All things Uglow! Comprehensive and compulsory.

Tea’s Tale
A series of wise, witty and wildly important letters about her personal transition.

As the official elucidation goes, “Semi-Conductor puts you in front of your very own AI orchestra. It uses Tensorflow and PoseNet to allow you to conduct music by moving your arms, using only your browser and a webcam.”

Midsummer Night’s Dreaming
“The Royal Shakespeare Company put on a unique, one-off performance of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in collaboration with Google’s Creative Lab. It took place online, and offline—at the same time. It was the culmination of an 18 month project looking at new forms of theater with digital at the core.”

“XY-Fi allows you to mouse-over the physical world, with your phone.”

Editions at Play
“Editions At Play is the Peabody Futures–award-winning initiative by Visual Editions and Google’s Creative Lab to explore what a digital book might be: one which makes use of the dynamic properties of the web.”

Hangouts in History
“Google's Creative Lab teamed up with Grumpy Sailor to help a class of year 8 students from Bowral ‘video conference’ with 1348, in what we became the first of five ‘Hangouts in History.’”

The Oracles
“The Oracles is a cross-platform experience, developed for primary school children in Haringey. Digital and physical environments are blended, alternating between gameplay and visits to Fallow Cross, where enchanted objects know where you are so that your moves trigger the story.”

Story Spheres
“Story Spheres is a way to add stories to panoramic photographs. It’s a simple concept that combines the storytelling tools of words and pictures with a little digital magic.”

“Google has a secret interview process …”

Unlimited Tea
And if you still can’t get enough Uglow … here’s a slew of talks to get lost in after listening to this episode of Design Matters.


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