Feature Design VAIO P Series
Feature Design VAIO P Series

Showing and hiding elements help it "roll up" into a neat package

Tanaka:To convey this image of being rolled up or enfolded, we applied design finesse in several respects. You can see the most obvious touches on the front edge and lid corners. Unlike lids on clamshell devices—which fit closely against the lower section, just like clam shells—the corners of the lid on the new P Series are quite rounded. By intentionally showing how the lid covers the keyboard panel, we give the impression that the unit is rolled up or folded up when closed. It's an idea we wanted to try for some time, and I think we succeeded in creating the desired effect: different appearances when closed and open, a slim-looking body, and so on.

Removing any elements that now seemed unneeded or contrived was another goal. Anything distracting would kill the appealing "rolled up" character, and these models would resemble the old models with just a fresh coat of paint.

Look at the area around the isolated keyboard, for example. On previous models, the keyboard panel was recessed, as if the surface around the keys had been carved out of the surrounding panel. This time the keyboard panel is flat. If it weren't, light would reflect from the ridge around the keys, and the effect of a sheet encircling the keyboard panel would be ruined. The side panels, which resemble black strips, also contribute to this effect. We couldn't interrupt these black strips with contrasting ports or jacks. Similarly, we couldn't have any distracting protrusions. That's where in-house design teams are invaluable. After we arranged for development of a few parts, the sides looked just as I had imagined, like sleek black strips. Besides this, we avoided metallic finishes, kept hinge seams inconspicuous, and tried to eliminate any cold, mechanical elements usually associated with computers.

Venturing into new territory for “VAIO” colors

Tanaka:Vivid colors enliven the "layer" that seems to be folded up when the lid is closed. But instead of plain red or blue, we chose warm and cool hues (such as orange and green) and other colors for a fresh, dynamic look that has broad appeal. These colors are popular in kitchen products and stationery. By choosing familiar colors, we ensure that the overall impression from the combination of the matte finish, part shapes, and general color scheme seems natural.

We still faced one basic issue, though. To complete the image I had envisioned, the keyboard and standard battery colors needed to match the body colors. But once parts had been created in a particular color, they would not be interchangeable. So if green proved popular, for example, we couldn't use extra black keys to assemble green models. And because the lid, bottom surface, battery, and keyboard are all painted separately (with separate base coats, depending on the material), it would be more reasonable to accept some variation in color and give up trying to match colors.

But to convince my colleagues this was important, I prepared an orange mock-up. This defied our usual practice of using neutral colors such as black, white, or silver to prevent color bias from affecting structural decisions. By defying tradition, I wanted to demonstrate the "rolled-up" character of this model and persuade everyone involved that we needed the keyboard and standard battery to match the body color.

The matte colors of the new P Series took as much repeated trial and error to achieve as the glossy finishes did for first-generation models. First, we had to determine the criteria for a perfect finish. Colors had to be vivid and resist fading. We chose durable UV coatings, for surfaces that are satisfyingly rough but don't easily scratch or develop a shine if rubbed over time. And because individual sites generally don't paint all surfaces of a computer, it's a matter of coordinating colors at each site. But if we don't give up, we find the right way.

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