Feature Design WALKMAN® S Series
[ 2007.2.16 up ]

A timeless yet up-to-the-minute design philosophy

The WALKMAN® should be a thing of beauty. This thought is shared both by Sony and our users. Take a look at the memory-type S series. Even though it is a totally innovative design, doesn't something about it remind you of the very essence of a WALKMAN®? What makes you feel this way? For the answer, three designers describe their work in their own words.

Yosuke Shimizu
Yosuke Shimizu
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Designer
Yujin Morisawa
Yujin Morisawa
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Creative Director
Kazuo Ichikawa
Kazuo Ichikawa
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
General Manager

A sports model born from a classic design

Shimizu: When I heard of the plan to make a waterproof sports model of a memory-type WALKMAN® (NW-S200 series), first I thought of continuing with the classic jog shuttle interface. With CD and MD players, users know just by looking at the stick controller that the product is a Sony, even if they cannot see the player itself. If we used this as a motif, I was certain that we could express the WALKMAN® identity. I thought that with a stylish form, it would attract a wide range of customers, not just sports enthusiasts.

But if in reality it did look like a stick controller, it would have impaired the overall design of the player. Consequently, I explored new concepts, imagining a ring on an aluminum rod. The problem was the size. Modifying one small element can completely change the character of the design. When I made the diameter of stick slightly wider or changed the shape of the jog shuttle, the results were not what I had in mind. The key was to achieve the right size with a balanced design, so I held constant discussions with the engineers while making a range of full-size mockups with many different kinds of aluminum rods.

The WALKMAN® as a musical instrument

Morisawa: I designed the streamlined NW-S700F/S600 series, which is part of the S series. To talk about this model, we must first look back at the hard-disk type A series that I previously worked on. This is because the new model has evolved from the A series design.

Yujin Morisawa

When we were designing the A series, we didn't want just a simple design, but wanted to achieve something greater. With such high-quality sound, the WALKMAN® seemed to me to be more like a musical instrument than a machine. We wanted to express this sound in the shape of the design. Music is something that continuously flows, so we imagined a design without edges and with endless curves. To help intensify the emotions felt when listening to music, we made it possible to display text or the album jacket on a color panel. In the new model, I expanded on the key design concepts of the A series, developing my ideas and giving a new "shape" to sound.

Of course, we also enhanced the details of the design, while keeping in mind the characteristics of a memory-type player. Our objective when covering the jog shuttle with a frame was to make the structure stronger while adapting a curved 3D surface for the shuttle. We also made the shuttle as user-friendly as possible, creating a shape that allows one-finger operation. Seen in detail over its entirety, the curvature becomes more elongated towards the edge, as though it were being stretched. This kind of shape cannot be expressed in a 2D sketch, so I used mockups from the beginning to show my ideas to the planning managers and engineers.

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