Hara: The XEL-1 really sells itself; it tells you everything you need to know. People must already know about the thin organic panel when they purchase the set, but naturally, I wanted owners to get excited when they unbox it at home. It's the world's first product of its kind, after all.
Still, the role of packaging is to protect the product from impact, from the time it leaves the plant until you bring it home. And with the XEL-1 in particular, the panel is the thinnest ever. Initially, this thinking misled me in packaging design. I wanted to protect the panel by laying the set on its side in the box, with the panel securely held down.
But then owners wouldn't appreciate how thin the panel is, if their first impression is of the XEL-1 on its side. They would not be pleasantly surprised, because this is no way to show off the set. After realizing this, I decided the set should be upright in the box. So, how could we orchestrate a memorable unboxing of the XEL-1? I took a mock-up, and, after unboxing it myself again and again, found the answer.
It came down to a box that resembles a cake box. Remember eagerly gazing at a cake box when you were a child, and being thrilled to open it? I wanted the package to be that exciting to open. And because the first lot would have special, limited-edition packaging, there were no compromises in design.
Hara: For the special packaging, I truly wanted the XEL-1 to be upright when owners opened the box. But the issue was how it could be revealed in a single action, as if unveiling it. That's when I thought outside the box of traditional TV packaging, which would focus on protecting the panel. Instead, why not leave the panel unrestrained? For this reason, the base of the XEL-1 is held firmly in place by a lid to secure it in transit.
The packaging itself is black, matching the XEL-1. It's matte, which prevents fingerprints during handling. And to prevent people from accidentally setting it on its side, the trim protrudes around the bottom. To solve the last issue of how to secure the lid, I chose a similar locking mechanism to those used in packaging for large TVs. This part is normally white, but we prepared black ones especially for the limited-edition packaging. So in a single action, owners can open the lid to reveal the XEL-1. Once they remove it, they'll notice the cleaning cloth it was resting on. I should note that for eco-friendly packaging, we thought the box should be recyclable, so it's made of cardboard.
This is probably the first Sony TV with such exquisite packaging. Come to think of it, the great care I took was also inspired by the organic panel. It motivated us, leading to a whole new graphical user interface and packaging. I'm only sorry that the special packaging was limited to the first lot. Take it from me, the package designer: if you're looking for an XEL-1, by all means, don't forget that!