Maesaka:Our task was to establish how we could effectively communicate to the consumer what makes the new X series so special. We explored a variety of approaches for the key visual elements in packaging and other media.
Focusing on what's inside the speakers would allow us to highlight the new technology, but our message to consumers would have been clinical and distant. A conventional photo of the speaker in a living room environment would offer more familiarity, however that's a common approach that lacks originality for a key visual. We therefore considered a visual style that would visualize what's special about the design and also give a sense of European-chic.
We concluded that the answer lay in textures. The walls and floors of European interiors tend to have distinctive textures, whether in a conceptual space such as a luxury hotel or, in some cases, a living room. After analyzing these textured surfaces, I examined speaker photos with similar textures in the background. Even without any embellishment from furniture or décor, it evoked a certain lifestyle. In the end, the visual I created looked appealingly simple and free of needless elements. It's worth adding that I might not have thought along these lines had I been based in Tokyo.
During the brainstorming process, I asked Daisuke, Mirko, and others to help me decide the best angle for the product photos. We shot the mock-ups from all angles, under many different kinds of lighting, and we compared the sketches superimposed on textured backgrounds. As we did this, we noticed other designers at the office spontaneously joining in the creative process. As a result, we chose the low-angle shots to convey the stately appearance of the dock speakers. You sense their low center of gravity, and they seem eminently stable. They're lit from the right, to accentuate the rounded contours that set these speakers apart.
Maesaka:We also needed to consider the screen image on the docked audio players for product photos. To date, we have shown home screens, but this, we felt, is a rather conservative choice that lacks originality and fails to convey how enjoyable music can be. We took this opportunity to design new screens — one for each model, showing album artwork. Performing musicians, bathed in blue light, instantly identify the X series and seem to link the series in a story.
Graphic elements created for promotional purposes incorporate the "X" of the series name and are modeled after the aluminum top panel. These are used for the series as a whole. Creating these kinds of core images for global products supports consistent communication design. As symbols of the X series, they're used not only in packaging but also in other points of contact with people, such as store displays and promotional videos. They add a distinctive Sony signature and unify the series.
Ishii:Design Centre Europe brings together designers from all across Europe. In industrial design alone, we have Mirko from Germany and other designers from France and Spain, working around the same island. It's very interesting, though not necessarily surprising, that the team generate a range of interpretations as our varied cultural backgrounds influence the design process and ultimately the design. Each of us tries to bring out essential elements of Sony design in our work, but the ideas we exchange draw on diverse perspectives. For designers, it's a very stimulating environment that we cannot achieve in the Creative Center in Japan.
Sony DNA is global in scale. I'm sure that some inspired design work is only possible once you immerse yourself in the culture of the target market. Our kind of work, which surpasses just the local or the global — the specific and the universal, in a way — defines Sony design. The X series is another good example of this.