Feature Design DSC-TX1
[ 2009.12.10 up ]

Behind the elegant curves, you'll find innovation

Familiar, minimalist T-series style, yet fresh and bold. "Cyber-shot" T-series cameras are prized for their slim bodies and stylish design. Here's a reinterpretation of this theme, wrapped in graceful curves, alluring colors, and a new GUI. What's behind this ripple in T-series design? Read on, as the designers reveal some answers.

Daisuke Ishii
Daisuke Ishii
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Senior Producer
Yujin Morisawa
Yujin Morisawa
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Designer
Miho Akita
Miho Akita
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Designer
Nobuki Furue
Nobuki Furue
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Interaction Architect
Hidehiro Komatsu
Hidehiro Komatsu
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Designer
Junko Katsuraku
Junko Katsuraku
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Producer and Designer

A fresh look for the T series

Ishii: In the previous DSC-T77 and T700, we slimmed down the "Cyber-shot" T series considerably. These models helped establish a reputation as sleek, beautiful cameras, and our work was recognized with international design awards. In the new TX1, we focused on improving picture quality. Even low-light shots look great, thanks to a newly developed image sensor (the "Exmor R" CMOS sensor). It's an update specifically to satisfy those wanting a T-series camera that also excels in darker conditions.

But enhancing picture quality and camera performance entails rearranging mechanisms inside, and the body inevitably becomes thicker. Responding to these internal changes through design proved very challenging. Fail to redesign the outside to account for changes inside, and we would lose the attractive T-series slimness. At the same time, we sought an enticing image not found in the T77. Straight lines and circles make the T77 seem starkly geometrical. Retaining the clean lines in a body that's gently curvaceous and sexier would yield an alluring new appearance, we thought.

In this regard, Yujin made valuable contributions in industrial design. Among Sony designers, he has a way with curves that's all his own. He happens to be very knowledgeable about cosmetic packaging design. It was a good opportunity to introduce this style in "Cyber-shot" design.

Draw the line, and that's where it all begins

Morisawa: After much thought, I decided that the only way to deal with the body thickness was to create a flowing lens cover. Now, depending on how you draw the line that forms a curve, surfaces can seem cute, sexy, or chiseled. Because curves can be drawn in so many ways, it's critical to strike the right balance for the project concept. Just the right amount of sexiness, as you find in cosmetics products, would appeal to women. Still, we had to keep other qualities people associate with "Cyber-shot" cameras: luxurious, with simple, fine textures. For a compelling balance of these qualities, it took a lot of effort to create a single line for the curve.

When designing shapes mainly composed of curves, I draw lines by hand, trace them to recreate them digitally, and then simulate them in 3D CAD software. One reason for this process is that even if you draw a simple curve, it may not reflect light evenly in physical models. Designers often consider how light is reflected when creating curves, but this is something you can't rely on CAD to reproduce perfectly. I worked with Daisuke to study the curves, fine-tune the line, simulate how light flows across the surface, and then confirm it with mock-ups. As you see, we could say that creating curves involves in-depth study of a single line.

The TX1 lens cover that emerged from this work retains clean lines. On both sides, the path of the line continues straight instead of curling around the body. This is nicely balanced with the smoothly flowing gentle contours formed by the curves. Ultimately, a body size that seemed to pose design challenges inspired a new sense of character in the camera, and I think the TX1 shows just the right amount of sexiness better than any past models.

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