A gateway to the ultimate
As 4K-compatible video-streaming services continue to carve out an ever-growing market presence, adding new layers to the constant
flux of the video pervading today’s cultural climate, what should a TV be? How should TV designs align with the evolution of content?
For the 2020 edition of its BRAVIA series, Sony decided to use its prowess in integrating imagery and sound and put the focus on
deeper Sound-from-Picture Reality—an attempt to take immersive experiences into uncharted territory. That ideal found expression in
the “Immersive Edge” design theme, a vision that helped Sony designers tailor the look and feel of the BRAVIA to the times.
Tracing the “edge” to
enrich immersive experiences
The BRAVIA lineup has a legacy of delivering amazing visual experiences with the living environment in mind. Aiming to embody a “Slice of Living,” which formed the series’ guiding design philosophy, BRAVIA devices have incorporated elements of living spaces in hopes of striking a harmonious chord with interior settings. In exploring ways to attain that ideal, the development team eventually crafted products that fused picture and sound into a single slate: the A1 Series of 4K OLED TVs, a testament to the power of realism and simplicity. From that point onward, Sony wove the Sound-from-Picture Reality experience into a host of other models across the product landscape.
Design philosophies evolve, though, and the BRAVIA design approach is embarking in a new direction for the future. While video-streaming services continue to make technological strides and render the world’s video content in even more astounding clarity, delivering compatibility with 4K and even 8K resolutions, Sony’s accelerating advances on both the visual and sound sides are unlocking doors to new levels of immersion through picture and sound in perfect harmony. The content is better than ever before. So is the technology. So are the viewing environments. With that context shaping the future of the viewing experience, Sony’s team of designers aligned their focus with thetheme of the “Immersive Edge.” The name encapsulates the process: enhancing immersion through an edge-oriented aesthetic. By minimizing the “visual noise” that the TV’s bezel and stand can create, thereby leaving nothing but thin “edges” separating content from real space, the design theme serves to streamline the look of the product and give the immersive dimension of image-sound integration room to shine—uninhibited by extraneous features. The physical presence of the TV itself recedes into the background, while the content reaches its full potential in the foreground.
What can a TV be?
That’s the question at the heart of what we do
When we tackled the 2020 BRAVIA lineup, we started by taking stock of where social changes and technological development were heading. From there, we prototyped different takes on what the ideal TV for the current moment would entail on a formal level. That laid the foundation for our basic design, which we discussed with engineers and gradually started to develop. To me, that’s what designers do: we keep outlining ideals for the entire development team to aspire to.
Yokota, Senior Art Director
8K LCD TV
room to shine
To deepen the immersive experiences of the 8K LCD TV Z8H, a platform for the breathtaking realism of 8K Sound-from-Picture Reality, we decided to get rid of any and every screen element that might interfere with the viewing experience. We conceived of the bezel as having two parts—inside and outside tracks, so to speak—and gave them separate colors and surface treatments. By then bringing the inside track into closer chromatic harmony with the screen, the design subdues the visual presence of everything around the screen except for the thin line of the outside track. The team also transformed the sound system at the heart of Sound-from-Picture Reality: the design turns the bezel into a flat speaker, vibrating to produce sound.
We also put the stands, much smaller than the support elements for previous BRAVIA generations, at the two ends of the screen to avoid reflections and keep the viewer’s attention on the imagery—not the structural supports. The line bordering the screen extends through to the stands, as well, creating a framing continuity that helps guide the viewer’s gaze to the screen. Besides making the stands a key part of the immersion component, the team also made the legs adjustable for optimal versatility. With the ability to move the rectangular legs from the edges of the screen into narrower configurations, users have a wider range of options when it comes to choosing installation locations. The legs do more than just move laterally, however; they also rotate. In setups with the legs inside the edges, users can turn the legs 90 degrees for a slimmer, lower-profile look with the legs flat instead of standing. The design makes sure that the stand never interferes with the immersion, whether the legs are at the edges or closer to the middle of the screen.
4K OLED TV
The 4K OLED TV A8H invokes the One Slate concept, an approach that uses sound technologies to generate sound via vibrations in the display itself—a distillation of the Sound-from-Picture Reality experience in a single physical slate. In hopes of augmenting that core identity, we made the stand smaller than ever. The decision to minimize the visual presence of the stand grew out of our commitment to keeping extraneous elements from getting in the way of the system’s viewing experience, which now boasts richer bass and more immediacy for Sound-from-Picture Reality like never before. The process centered on ensuring the stand would have enough strength to support the large display panel but still be slim and compact as possible, a balance that we finally managed to strike after trying out a bevy of different combinations of materials and forms. By angling the end of the stand legs down ever so slightly, meanwhile, we also worked to help the product interface smoothly with the surface underneath. The stand may seem like a minor piece of the bigger design puzzle, but all that careful attention had a palpable effect on the overall look: instead of just supporting the display, the stand accentuates the One Slate aesthetic and enhances the type of minimalism so vital to immersive experiences.
Placing the soundbar was a big part of the design process, too. In the end, we made the height of the stand adjustable so that the soundbar could fit under the screen if necessary. Again, it was all about avoiding interference. From its spot below the display, the soundbar can deliver unbelievable audio performance and pull the viewer into the experience without throwing any distracting elements into the mix. Another focus was the rear surface, which we gave a more sophisticated, elegant look to keep the TV—as an object in space—from being too conspicuous. Whether it was consolidating the substrates into a more compact configuration or hiding the heat-radiating holes from view thanks to a new heat-dissipation structure, we worked with engineers to make improvements across the entire scope of the design until we arrived at a refined, minimalist package, elegantly simple down to the smallest details.
4K LCD TV
Featuring a rear-mounted tweeter for a unique Sound-from-Picture Reality experience, the 4K LCD TV X95H is another BRAVIA lineup entry with an emphasis on immersion. To give users even richer tastes of that enveloping effect, we went with a flush surface—a design where the bezel and display share the same level plane—that softens the bezel’s visual presence. In designing the stand, we opted for metallic materials to make the support structure thinner and more compact. The physical properties were just one facet of the stand design, however; we also specifically positioned the legs in a straight-line configuration with the left and right bezels, a touch that heightens the minimalist aesthetic and lets the viewing experience resonate unencumbered. If users need a different configuration to fit the TV in a given setting, they can even move the stands to the center of the screen—the design puts both aesthetics and versatility at the fore.
Accentuating the value of the product
We spent a lot of time thinking about how to capture the BRAVIA’s unique sense of value despite working around a design that favored smaller, less-prominent bezels and stand legs. One way was through surface treatment. By giving the metallic stand a glossy sheen and delicate hairline finish, we managed to emphasize the beauty of the support element—regardless of how slim and compact it was—without making it distractingly flashy.
Kuwao, Design Manager
“ultimate in immersion”
The new Immersive Edge design theme brings new layers into the BRAVIA lineup’s pursuit of immersive experiences, which emerge from captivating Sound-from-Picture Reality. While the design informs the look of the TVs, it also has to get across to customers—communicating that one-of-a-kind BRAVIA wonder is another challenge for the design team. For the BRAVIA designers, the focus turned to building anticipation: presenting potential customers with a consistent set of on-screen visuals to project the “ultimate in immersion” on touchpoints ranging from the official website to in-store showcases.
Building our ideas on the “Sensorial Gateway” concept, we crafted our communication visuals around elements of the natural world that seem to beckon people further—motifs like haunting ice caves and spellbinding ravines—to capture a sense of scale and highlight the elements of immersion, subtleties, and depth so essential to the BRAVIA’s performance. All those elements came together in the promotional video content for in-store displays, which pull potential buyers into the viewing experience as soon as they make their initial encounters with the product. By unifying the visual approach across every touchpoint, be it the website or an in-store display, the communication design shapes a consistent user experience from the product-evaluation stage to the final purchase.
Expressing ourselves through the BRAVIA
A big part of the focus on immersive experiences grew out of the development team’s determination to give users a real feel for the magic of visual culture. To translate that vision into a real, communicative form, we selected communication motifs with resonant imagery that would put the BRAVIA’s performance front and center: powerful moments of natural beauty capable of wowing people at first glance.
The 2020 BRAVIA lineup ushers viewers into immersive experiences, probing the depths of wonder through unique Sound-from-Picture Reality.
Moving forward, Sony Design will continue to pursue the ideals of what a TV can be: a platform for
stirring, inspiring visual experiences, the possibilities limitless.