Yamaji: Once the product had taken shape, we focused on the materials to use. Because the unit has such clean lines and contours, the feeling of the materials has a tremendous impact on the impression it gives. In particular, I insisted on just the right front mesh. For a good match with interiors, I sought a finely woven texture, as is used for sofas or curtains; something organic, but with an elegant sheen.
My options were limited, though, because Sony maintains strict quality standards even for mesh, in criteria such as flame retardance. Normally I would have to choose from a range of approved textiles. This time, I began by finding samples with ideal textures, focusing on fabric for clothing and interior furnishings. Using the samples as my guide, I created fabric that would meet our quality standards. Although I was lucky to find existing patterns that essentially matched what I had in mind, finding thread with the perfect metallic sheen was a matter of trial and error up to the launch date.
One attempt after another, probably a dozen design models in all. But this work paid off in the high-end NAS-V7M in particular, which is covered in lustrous fabric reminiscent of metallic surfaces. I doubt that mesh this luminous has ever been used in a mini stereo system.
Yamaji: With a product so carefully designed to complement interiors, we feared that people would have a hard time appreciating this design statement in regular retail environments. Ideally, we wanted to introduce the system under the right conditions to people with discerning taste in interior design, so we took the initiative. Project members in design and product planning collaborated to seek display opportunities in interior shops, cafés, and similar settings.
Store managers proved very receptive, and we were grateful for the chance to show the system this way. And the fact that professional interior designers liked them-that was quite encouraging to us. In coming months we'll also show the system in condominium model rooms, hotel lobbies, Internet cafés, and other sites.
Suzuki: Conventional high-end audio systems call to mind luxurious styling in aluminum or other fine materials. But citing expense, manufacturers have compromised by applying a metallic finish over a plastic body, or by using other fabrication methods. For some time, people have accepted these approaches.
Especially now that people have more refined taste in both product design and interior design, we reject this approach of copying upscale equipment but with cheaper materials and special fabrication. Instead, we're tempting consumers to bring units with unprecedented style into their living room. This is the change of attitude we sought. As we redefine audio systems to offer people a more enjoyable listening experience, we must continue to focus not only on features and audio performance, but also on people and their listening environment.