Education: Communication Design
Joined Sony: 2003
Role: Communication Designer
I attended an art college in New York’s Manhattan. American universities give out a demanding amount of assignments and it was particularly hard for me to keep up in my general education classes. I felt the pressures of the workload on a daily basis, to be honest. In terms of design study, I took courses in various areas of Communication Design: Visual Storytelling, Packaging, Advertising, Editorial Design, Typography, and more. Each course followed the same cycle: a huge amount of work was assigned every day, and we had to present our assignments in front of the entire class at the next meeting. In order to complete all of this on time every day, all I can remember is running around Manhattan frantically. Despite all of this, I spent my summer vacations with my college friends doing things like inline skating in Central Park, going to outdoor concerts, visiting art galleries, and browsing clothing stores and bookstores downtown. Even though I had no money, I enjoyed New York to the fullest.
I was a mid-career hire here at Sony. While I was still a student studying Communication Design at a New York college, I also gained intern experience at an advertising agency, followed by local freelance work and website and catalog design for a design office. After returning to Japan, I knew I wanted to do dynamic work in the most global environment I could find, and I chose Sony because I also felt like the company matched my background. Since joining Sony, not only my skills as a designer but also, and to a greater degree, my "communication abilities" have been put to use in the field. New York is referred to as a "melting pot," and my college in particular was a place where all kinds of people from all over the world had come to study to be designers, so it was an environment in which cultural and language differences were taken for granted. I think it’s because of those college experiences that I haven’t had these kinds of difficulties since joining Sony, despite the extremely diverse environment, and I’ve had no problem working together with many different kinds of people.
My first assignment after joining Sony was the group in charge of corporate branding, and I oversaw the design of the Annual Report issued to shareholders as well as retail concept creation. One project that was part of the Annual Report sticks out in particular. We would create a visual representation of what kind of image Sony should convey to shareholders, and use it as the front cover of the Annual Report. We always proposed the design in response to a commission from headquarters, so a lot of the presentations were in front of the CEO and top management, which was a great experience for a newcomer like me.
Four years later, I was transferred to the Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications (currently Sony Mobile Communications Inc.) Industrial Design team and put in charge of colors and materials for mobile phones. The Sony Ericsson main design office is located in Sweden, so I was frequently sent there on business trips, where I worked with the local designers to propose the proper colors and materials for each model. The work of selecting colors and materials might seem closer to Industrial Design than to Communication Design. However, it’s linked with Communication Design in the sense that you have to consider how the color and material will contribute to the product’s overall impression on the customer, which is something that I find really fascinating. After returning to Sony, I first oversaw tablet accessories and various elements of mobile devices, from leather covers to colors and materials. Later, I took a leadership role in Communication Design direction for three categories: the Walkman®, mobile devices, and in-vehicle devices.
My experiences range from graphic design, such as logo and packaging design, to product branding, but I currently belong to the department responsible for Sony’s corporate branding, where I’m involved in store-related work like the Sony Store. My role is to consider how the store environment affects customer impressions of the Sony brand from a design perspective, and to demonstrate Sony’s appeal through in-store product presentation.
When I was in charge of packaging, I would first confirm the model concept with the product planner. I would then engage in communication with the packaging engineer to gain insight from an engineering perspective on what kind of shape would be feasible with regard to the packaging I had in mind before completing the design. Next, I would present the finished prototype to sales company staff and receive feedback on whether or not the packaging was something customers might actually buy. For corporate-related work, you have to make sure that top management, the CEO’s office, and the division responsible for brand management are all on the same page before proceeding with the design. Working with such a diverse range of divisions and people has made me strongly aware of the importance of both maintaining a solid core in terms of my own design concepts, and possessing the communicative abilities to properly convey those ideas.
I go to a gym and swim in the pool there 2-3 times a week. I’ve been an avid swimmer for six years now. In the winter, I also do hot yoga. With desk work, you’re usually sitting, so I make an effort to move my body whenever I can.
One thing that I’ve become aware of since joining Sony is how fascinating people are. It’s truly interesting to work with so many unique individuals who have such diverse interests. My goal for the future is to create stores that will provide enjoyable product presentation to customers all around the world. I would also like Sony Design to serve as a dynamic source of enjoyment for the lives of people worldwide. I hope that through design, we can bring entertainment to the world.
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