Maesaka: What trends are emerging in advertising and packaging? Those of us at Design Centre Europe took advantage of our location to engage in research before the workshops. Small and I like to think that every day, we're exposed to trends emerging from London. Over the course of taking on proposal after proposal, our framework for Tokyo-based product design and U.K.-based communication design has just naturally fallen into place.
First, we considered how to express what MDR-1 stands for symbolically. Our market research yielded insight, in this regard. Respondents recommended that we let our products stand on their own merits and speak for themselves. Product design in Tokyo continues to inspire confidence, so wouldn't it be easier and truer to our ideals simply to convey this directly?
Letting these products be the heroes was therefore central in communication design. An approach where product highlights boldly speak for themselves, with hardly any visual embellishment at all, can only succeed when products are worthy of representing Sony for years to come. We set to work creating key visuals from this concept, for use in packaging, at stores, and on websites, as well as other promotional resources such as tools and communication guidelines.
Another way the market research yielded tangible results was by confirming that trend leaders appreciate what feels "real." That's why we insisted on actual photos in packaging and key visuals, instead of computer graphics. The texture of leather, the enticing metallic gleam of the headphone arms….To capture subtle details well, we couldn't rely on computer graphics alone.
Headphone photos were taken by Sean Myers, a photographer who also shoots for British lifestyle magazines rather than your standard still-life photographer. In the product photos, we wanted him to capture the atmosphere of the headphones and a sense of depth, without any embellishment. For high-end headphones, this kind of intangible atmosphere is also an important element. We think he did an excellent job of capturing it.
Small: Headphone packaging is usually covered with instructions and precautions in several languages. That's something we avoided this time by dividing the packaging into two parts, with an outer sleeve and a box. It's as if the box were wrapped up like a gift. Removing the paper after purchase reveals a chic, nicely textured box, which you can keep to store the accessories. It certainly looks like a premium gift box.
Lift off the lid, and all you'll see are the headphones, resting on fine cloth. There are no manuals in view, because they're tucked into the lid. The packaging also lets the product speak for itself, you see.
Small: It took some effort to distinguish each of the three models in the packaging, and decide the perfect angle to show the headphones from. For example, on the noise-canceling MDR-1RNC, the red rings aren't visible from the front. And for the Bluetooth-compatible MDR-1RBT, we wanted to show at a glance that it's wireless. In each case, we considered the optimal presentation.
The background colors were obviously chosen for a reason. The standard MDR-1R is shown against red, the accent color across the series. Behind the noise-canceling model, cool gray conveys a sense of serenity. And blue, often associated with Bluetooth technology, frames the wireless model. There's a rhyme and reason to everything you see in our communication design beyond mere decoration.
Morimoto: Sony monitor headphones have established a solid reputation at recording studios around the world. Next to this legendary monitor series, you'll find top-of-the-line in-ear headphones in the XBA series..
Iijima: It takes some courage for a manufacturer to use "1" in a model number, but these headphones have certainly earned it. We want everyone to try out the fit and sound quality for themselves. Personally, to all who contributed in our market research, I'm proud to say that these headphones are just what you wanted.