Google, graphic design and the Gwacheon connection


On holidays, special occasions and any other notable days of celebration, web users from Alberta to Asia are greeted with a graphical gift from Google: a festive company logo, remixed to match the holiday. These holiday logos will be familiar to anybody with Google among their main bookmarks, where logos celebrating events from the World Cup to the Lunar New Year can be seen during each occasion.

Google Holiday Logos: Dennis Huang does the World Cup & The Lunar New Year

What most web users are likely not acquainted with is the origin of these logos. It turns out that each of these designs, whether celebrating Louis Braille’s birthday or World Water Day, are all created by a man named Dennis Hwang.

Mr. Hwang hails from a city in South Korea called Gwacheon. Currently in charge of all of Google’s webmasters, he spends 20% of his job at Google sketching and producing the infamous holiday logos. Most recently, you might have seen his work this past Canada Day, which saw the L in Google replaced with the Peace Tower, the central feature of Canada’s parliament buildings in Ottawa.

Also on this past Canada Day, a team of official representatives from Dennis Hwang’s hometown of Gwacheon visited a park very near to Elbowroom Design’s headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta — just a short 20 minute sprint up the Deerfoot from downtown Calgary. Hwang’s town of Gwacheon is actually sister cities with Airdrie, part of a twinning project that has been in place since 1997.

On this particular visit, Gwacheon donated three sets of traditional Korean totems called Jangseung, three man-and-woman pairs to keep the village safe. The six totem poles now congregate in Airdrie’s Nose Creek Park, where Gwacheon’s simple, beautiful flag flies alongside Airdrie’s city crest.

Gwacheon’s gift to Airdrie: six totems and a beautiful flag

Across the ocean, Dennis Hwang continues to doodle for Google in Gwacheon, while in his sister city of Airdrie, Elbowroom Design does its duties under the shadow of the Gwacheon flag, proudly part of a worldwide graphic design coincidence — the Gwacheon connection.