Feature Design Extension Line by VAIO
[ 2007.3.8 up ]

An original form, right at home in the living room

Have you seen it for yourself? The TP1 Living Room PC. Its unique, round shape has turned quite a few heads since launch. Discover the freer shape computers can take, once you leave behind preconceptions about box-like form factors. Here, meet the designers who introduce another new paradigm from Sony as they share their inspirations.

Satoshi Masamitsu
Satoshi Masamitsu
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Creative Producer
(Product Design Management)
Tetsu Sumii
Tetsu Sumii
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Art Director
(Product Design)
Osamu Sakurai
Osamu Sakurai
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Creative Producer
(Interface Design Management)
Satoshi Akagawa
Satoshi Akagawa
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Designer
(Interface Design)
Hiroshige Fukuhara
Hiroshige Fukuhara
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Art Director
(Communication Design)

There's more than pleases the eye in this round shape

Sumii: A round VAIO may sound like some kind of gimmick. But to those of us in design, it was never our intention just to make it look striking. We strove to think along proven lines.

So how did it end up round? First, as a shape that complements living room decor, it makes sense. In many living rooms, LCD TVs have become a familiar fixture. These are joined by VCRs or HDD recorders, often in a loose arrangement. Considering that the TP1 could also be installed this way, we might have focused only on the front design—but there's no way we would have done this. A jumble of protruding terminals in back would hardly be elegant. But make it round, and the entire surface becomes the "front." It also affords us enough clearance to keep cables neatly organized. I just knew this was the right solution.

The TP1 is a model people enjoy by connecting to their television. The bigger the screen, the more engaging the content—whether it's recorded TV shows, your own content from a camcorder, shots from a digital camera, or video streaming over a broadband connection. Connect an amp or the Wireless Digital Music Streamer, and your music is under your control, too. All this content revolves around the TP1. The circular shape embodies the unit's central role in a direct way.

The impact of design that thinks outside the box

Feature Design Extension Line by VAIOVAIO Extension Line Product Group

VAIO Extension Line Product Group
Middle: TP1 Living Room PC (includes wireless keyboard and remote control) / Far left: DT1 Digital TV Tuner / Far right: WA1 Wireless Digital Music Streamer

Masamitsu: Quite a few people probably still find the idea of enjoying their computer on a TV strange and resist it. But I think even they can't resist the TP1. They'll want to bring it into their living room, to use it with their TV set.In my role producing the VAIO design, that's the kind of design I sought. To do it, I gathered contributions from teams of IT-savvy VAIO designers and designers with experience in home products such as TVs, receivers, and audio components. Working next to each other, they shared their unique perspectives on design.

Sumii here is in the second group, with experience mainly in TVs and related products. He had a stint in Europe, so he's familiar with the lush living rooms often found there. And importantly, he was new to VAIO design. I assigned him hoping for inspirations drawing on his interior design expertise, free from preconceptions about computers we've seen so far.

But—and I can only say this calmly in retrospect—when I first saw his paper mock-up, it completely threw me. I thought, what is this? After I thought about it rationally, imagined it in living rooms, and considered how we would introduce and market it, I decided it might be feasible. Then I realized this was exactly the answer I wanted after all. We needed a powerful, iconic image—in a word, unforgettable—to persuade people to try a computer they would bring into their living rooms. I mused on it all night, and the next morning, I committed to it. My first priority then became putting the brakes on development of the motherboard, which was already taking shape in the form of a regular, squarish board.

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