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.
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.
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.
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.