Design can be found in many different areas of life including fashion, architecture and entertainment. We are surrounded by product and industrial design every hour of the day. As a global corporation, Sony has established a network of design centres around the world capable of understanding local needs and tailoring product design to regional markets. The main Design Centre is based in Tokyo and provides general direction for the design and development of home electronic products such as TV and home audio, as well as portable equipment including Walkman and Cyber-shot cameras. These guidelines are then adopted and adapted by local design centres in Los Angeles, Shanghai, Singapore and London to ensure products perfectly reflect the tastes of consumers.
Since the Design Centre was founded in 1961, a philosophy of “building high-performance, easy-to-use and beautiful products with a distinctive Sony flair” has been followed passionately by designers. Sony continuously strives to develop products that are highly original and this spirit has proved very successful. Over the decades, the Sony Design Centre has collected a variety of prestigious honours and awards for its products including Red Dot, iF design and the CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award.
For more information on Sony Design, please refer to:
Hirotaka Tako, Art Director at Sony Europe Design Centre, has worked at Sony for almost six years and during that time has designed a number of conceptual and award winning commercial products. The most famous of the products taken from concept through to design is the “picture frame” TV series.
In the following interview, Tako reveals some insight into Sony Europe Design Centre and speaks openly about his inspiration and realisation of the “picture frame” TV.
Link to EX1 and E4000 press release.
How does your design background influence your view and your way of designing things?
I was trained in environmental design; a discipline which identifies the relationship between human behaviour, a product and its significance within its environment and how that can be improved through better design. In other words how human’s respond to products and their environments. I try to adopt this concept in all of my designs at Sony.
The picture frame TV is good example of this. Where did your inspiration come from?The picture frame televisions were designed here at the Design Centre Europe in response to a brief that requested a unique design for the multi-cultural European market.
In the early stages of conceptualizing the design I spent some time in various interior-design shops across Europe and visited homes of friends and neighbours in London. During this time I came to realize that unlike in Japan, a vast majority of Europeans enjoyed giving time and consideration to their interior decoration, displaying certain pictures or artworks with their own natural way. One of the reoccurring themes in these interiors is that the picture frame (especially the largest and most striking) dominates the prime spot in the living room, such as above the fireplace.
What enabled you to turn your concept into a product?
Just as white goods in the kitchen have over the years become an integral part of the kitchen units — hidden from view and exposed only when in use — I see a trend among consumers who are looking to do the same in the living room. Maximising Sony’s technological advancements of exceptionally thin screens, my concept allows the consumer to integrate the television into the living space by making it a picture frame.
Technological advancements allowed me to further develop design, resulting in the EX1. A slimmer panel realised a very realistic picture frame finish and wireless technology relieved cable clutter.
What was your aim for the EX1 picture frame' TV?
With the E4000 — the first generation of the picture frame series — I hoped to achieve a television design that worked as an integral part of the modern European interior, one that offered the choice of customisation for style-conscious consumers. By adopting the concept of a picture frame television, I was able to suggest wall mounting the television in the centrepiece of the living room.
Could you explain some of the features of this product that you particularly like and that you think will appeal to consumers?
I think it goes back to the harmony of design and technology. As I said the technological advancements allowed me to fully realise my design in the EX1 as a slimmer panel realised a more realistic picture frame finish and wireless technology relieved cable clutter, making the EX1 more appealing to consumers.
Will you be launching any products in the future that will complement his product or increase the range?Maybe! You will have to wait and see.