Sony BRAVIA TVs and matching home theater systems have been a single-minded quest for picture quality that captivates and audio with truly realistic presence. How could design signal this amazing experience more clearly? Read all the answers to this essential question that designers found in the Sense of Quartz design concept.
Tako: Until recently, Monolithic Design set the tone for the BRAVIA line, with TV design inspired by the beauty of a simple, unadorned panel. After three years of exploring Monolithic Design, though, we began this project sensing that minimalism alone wouldn't be enough to convey what's special about new BRAVIA sets. Ask me what this generation of BRAVIA stands for, and I'd say an amazing viewing experience, from picture and sound quality that we've taken to new extremes. Our success in this project would depend on how well we could convey this impressive experience through design.
BRAVIA all begins with meticulously selected materials, which ensures the superior picture and sound quality. To put it another way, each of the fine materials we choose is directly linked to the exceptional viewing experience. Accordingly, if we could accentuate these alluring materials and textures in design, surely it would be clearer what BRAVIA stands for. When I realized this, I glimpsed the direction to take in design—telling people what they're getting by letting the materials do the talking, so to speak.
I then took another look at a hallmark of BRAVIA TVs since the Monolithic Design era, the glass LCD surface. Manufactured with high-precision bonding, the glass screen is a key factor in the superior BRAVIA viewing experience. In consideration of its importance, I decided to highlight the glass itself in design. I knew from this inspiration that our basic design concept was taking shape, and we would explore design capitalizing on the distinctive appearance or finish of each material. Eventually, we developed a kind of loose narrative around several materials to guide us in design, including not only glass but also metallic textures such as mirrored or brushed metal finishes. Imagine a monolithic glass slate that appears to float over a ring-shaped base, their connection forming the intelligent core. Or sculpting the glass slate of images to expose sound. Our new design concept had emerged—something we call Sense of Quartz.
The word quartz has resonances of precision and clarity. It's a perfect reminder of the pure, clear picture and sound quality that BRAVIA is known for. Meanwhile, we would explore shapes, textures, and luminosity of the mineral quartz in three hallmarks of BRAVIA design. In appearance, the new sets would have "Distinctive Silhouettes", such as bold combinations of slates, rectangular solids, circles, and other simple geometric shapes. Texturally, we would seek "Quartz Edge" recalling metal and glass, through an array of finishes. And in a new facet of BRAVIA design, we would enhance interactivity through illumination from an "Intelligent Core" at the heart of the set. By combining these design elements, we forged a wholly new BRAVIA line.
Yokota:The W950A series was designed to look as much as possible like a slate of glass sculpted from a single mass. Toward this end, we layered glass over and behind the LCD cell. It's essentially sandwiched between layers of glass. Encasing it in glass not only helps maintain structural rigidity but also makes the surfaces flatter and smoother than ever. A cover over the circuit board panel in back neatly conceals cables, which might otherwise look cluttered. From any angle, the set's beautiful.
What makes the front and back layers seem to form a single slate of glass is an aluminum band around the edge. This band is expertly brushed and then anodized, giving it the deep blue-green gleam of a thick-looking cut glass edge. Achieving exactly the right brushed finish and glass-like color proved very difficult and took repeated fine-tuning.
Another way we made it resemble a single slate of glass was by pairing it with a ring-shaped stand. The stark contrast between the rectangle and circle makes the glass screen appear to float over the stand. Although the ring is actually an oval, it's fabricated and presented to look circular. It's covered in aluminum, which is then brushed. Fabrication was much harder than it might seem, because we had to follow the curves of the oval.
Something that enhances the elegance of the unadorned slate is a feature introduced in this project—central illumination that conveys information intelligently. Although BRAVIA sets have always been designed to provide an immersive viewing experience, they have still included a variety of LED indicators and labeled buttons that signal the mode or timer status. This time, we minimized these elements and integrated them in one place, called an "Intelligent Core." Not only did this reduce the internal components required, it enabled a slimmer lower bezel and a seamless glass panel. But because it's a key element that visually links the simple glass slate and the ring, it took many attempts to find a size that struck the right balance. All the effort was worthwhile, though. When illuminated, the core's downward light does make the glass slate appear to levitate. It's just another example of careful W950A series design that emphasizes the elegance of a simple glass slate.
Note: The W950A series is available exclusively in markets outside Japan. As of May 2013, no domestic release is planned.