Dialogue with Sony Design: Designers should bring out the possibility of technology

Recently, Sony Design Center China (Design Center China) participated in the "Design Shenzhen" large-scale design exhibition held at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center with the theme of "Natural Resonance". It is worth noting that this is the first exhibition of Sony Design in China.

Therefore, Ai Faner also had the opportunity to conduct a face-to-face interview with Zheng Qi, director of Sony China Design Center, and Pop Zhang, senior designer of Sony China Design Center.

They introduced to Ai Faner the behavioral philosophy of Sony's in-house design team, the "Sony China Design Center". what a role.

What is "Sony Design"?

Founded in 1961, Sony Design has designed and created many epoch-making products. Later, the business field of the design department continued to expand, and participated in the development of Sony Group's diversified businesses, providing support for Sony's electronics, semiconductors, entertainment, finance and other businesses.

In fact, this internal design department, which is hidden in Sony, has undergone many name changes over the years, from the earliest design studio to today's Creative Center at Sony's Tokyo headquarters, and Design Center China at Sony's Shanghai headquarters in China, etc. . At present, Sony Design has set up five branches around the world, allowing professional members with different expertise and internationalization to jointly engage in various design activities.

According to Zheng Qi's introduction, Sony China Design Center (DCC) currently has 9 people, but in fact it involves a very wide range, from traditional ID, visual communication design, graphic design, interactive interface design, to space design, content production , and even some designer research activities.

This time, Sony participated in the design of the entire project of the Shenzhen exhibition, which was managed by Sony China Design Center, which was fully responsible for the theme conception, visual design, experience planning, booth layout and other aspects of the exhibition project.

▲ Zheng Qi, Director of Sony China Design Center

When asked about the purpose of Sony’s participation in this exhibition, Zheng Qi replied:

One is to increase the popularity of Sony Design and let everyone know about our design strength;

Second, pass on Sony's ideas and achievements in environmental protection and other sustainable aspects to more people.

I think this answer actually answers the question of why the theme of the exhibition is "Natural Resonance".

Natural design, taken from nature

Walking into the entrance gate of Design Shenzhen's venue, Sony's booth and its logo appeared directly in my eyes. It was a very eye-catching position on the left side of the main entrance passage. In fact, Sony's "Natural Resonance" booth did attract many visitors to stop and watch.

The whole booth takes the "circle of life" as the main line and is designed in an open circle, half of which is the physical display space and the other half is the virtual experience space.

The audience enters from the entrance, and after walking through the theme introduction area, they will be greeted by the display of environmentally friendly innovative materials developed by Sony and the planting display of Sony's augmented ecosystem "Syneculture". What is more surprising is that all the plants around the booth are cultivated through symbiotic farming methods, and they are all growing fresh plants.

The cooperative farming method is an original agricultural method created by Sony, which advocates returning to the natural ecological growth method. Its technical principle is to mix various useful plants at high density without plowing, fertilizing and spraying pesticides. The interaction between plants and the outside world makes the ecosystem reach a state of orderly and natural growth.

At present, the cooperative farming method has been successfully introduced into China, and Sony is conducting extensive farm experiments on it.

"Environmental considerations in product design are extremely important to Sony."

What is more interesting to the design industry is the display of three environmentally friendly innovative materials displayed on Sony's booth this time. Sony has currently developed three environmentally friendly innovative materials, including OBM (Original Blended Material), Triporous, and SORPLAS.

Sony's recycled plastic SORPLAS has a high recovery rate and can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions; SORPLAS itself has the characteristics of temperature and corrosion resistance. Thanks to Sony's proprietary formula, SORPLAS only needs a small amount of flame retardant It can obtain high strength and high temperature and humidity resistance. Now, we can see the application of this highly flame-retardant material on the back cover of Sony BRAVIA TV.

For Sony, the use of optical discs as one of the raw materials for SORPLAS is a matter of course. As a storage medium that is naturally eliminated by the times, Sony Music Solutions Inc., a disc manufacturer owned by Sony, has a large amount of recyclable CD disc raw materials. The emergence of SORPLAS can effectively help Sony solve the problem of recycling waste discs.

The LinkBuds released by Sony last year used OBM materials in the packaging, achieving the purpose of completely free of plastic in the packaging. Compared to plastics, OBM hybrids are made from sustainable materials, all of which are plants with a shorter growth period, which has a lower impact on the environment. The logo and other words on the surface can be reproduced by embossing without using ink. Based on the concept of environmental sustainability, the final product has no unnecessary coloring, and besides providing more stable processing and taking up less resources, it also retains an eye-catching organic appearance.

"Although the material of OBM can be made into white or other colors. However, in the design and development, we will also consider how to express and describe the characteristics of this environmentally friendly material. We specially go to Choose some tone and texture that everyone can understand, so you will see this gray color and graininess. As long as you see this appearance, you can perceive this material and the story behind it. Developed in material design In the whole process, Sony Design still participated more, and there were more places to consider.”

The main material of the LinkBuds earphone cavity and storage box is also "environmentally friendly", both of which are recycled ABS materials recycled from auto parts. Its surface forms a layer of frosted texture, which not only enhances the aesthetic texture, but also achieves a delicate and wear-resistant touch.

As for why these three eco-friendly materials are being showcased at the design fair, Pop told us:

"Through this exhibition, we also hope to introduce these materials to friends in the design industry and let him know that these materials can be used."

Zheng Qi also immediately added:

"We also hope that not only Sony can use this material in the future, but more people in other industries and companies can also use these better materials.

For example, take OBM as an example, but Sony uses this material, but its influence is relatively limited. We hope that through the stories behind these materials, more local people can know that the original hometown materials can be used in these places. By telling a story in this way, we can drive and raise more people's awareness of environmental protection. This is what we want to do to increase our influence in this area. "

Many people may think that if this kind of new environmental protection material is replaced, then the "price" of environmental protection will be passed on to consumers. In this regard, Zheng Qi has a completely different view. He believes that sustainable materials do not necessarily mean expensive.

"Sustainable materials do not necessarily mean that they must be expensive. At the beginning, the high cost may be due to the quantity. But we believe that if more and more products can be covered, and the industry chain can be more mature, the cost will be reduced." will decrease."

This is why Sony wants these materials to be seen by more people. As long as more products are designed and produced with environmentally friendly materials, the cost of materials will naturally drop. This is another principle of "quantitative change causes qualitative change". At the same time, among the user groups, those who are more accepting of this environmental protection concept are the younger generation whose consumption power is growing with age.

"Actually, we have done various researches. We found that compared with the United States and Japan, the younger generation in China is quite positive about the theme of environmental friendliness. This is very interesting. They are more able to accept such concepts. Young people There were a lot of people in that thought, this is a really cool thing, I did something environmentally friendly, and he thought it was something different.”

From this point of view, since the general trend of environmental protection is irreversible, and the consumption power of the younger generation is also increasing day by day, then this set of environmentally friendly materials recognized by young people is naturally expected to be more widely used.

The role of the designer, bringing out the possibilities of technology

At the exhibition site of "Natural Resonance", Sony China Design Center also set up an immersive experience space with multi-sensory experience.

Stepping into the space, you can see a huge curtain. In the next three minutes, Sony's industrial-grade 4K projector will project a nature-themed narrative video carefully designed by Sony, showing the four stages of the life cycle. chapter.

The so-called "multi-sensory" experience means that in addition to vision, it also brings interactive experience in terms of sound and touch.

The tactile feedback technology provided by Sony China Research Institute is placed on the indoor floor, which cooperates with the audio and video content designed and created by Sony to provide special vibration effects.

In addition, users can also experience Sony's 360 spatial sound field mapping technology (360SSM) in this experience space, which uses sound reflections from the walls and ceilings of the space to create multiple phantom speakers (simulated acoustics) at the ideal listening position. source) to create an immersive wide sound field, allowing the audience to experience the origin, evolution and cycle of natural life as if they were on the scene, so as to better understand the significance of sustainable development for human beings and the earth.

At the scene, it can be seen that there are many people who came to see the exhibition, and they gathered beside Sony's booth and formed a long queue.

Zheng Qi said: "Vibration is one of the most common phenomena in nature, and it is also the basic way of information transmission and interaction among all things. We hope that through this exhibition, we can resonate with visitors. Through the power of design and technology, Let’s look forward to the future vision of better sustainable development of people and nature.”

In fact, this is not the first time that Sony China Design Center has curated exhibitions. In 2021, Sony DCC will complete the "SIIC 3D Sand Table Projection Project".

On an L-shaped stage, they designed a sand table composed of 2D facades and 3D model surfaces. With 4 Sony laser projectors, they applied different visual elements, colors and music effects to each stage. Create an immersive viewing experience for the audience, so that they can experience the charm and potential of the North Bund personally.

The Sony designs we have known in the past will be more used in consumer electronics products, but in these less popular projects, how does the Sony China Design Center maintain the overall tonality of Sony Design and how to convey it? What about Sony's design philosophy?

Zheng Qi mentioned that they will not undertake all projects, but will integrate design with new and unique technologies based on their own ideas, and then express them in a "very Sony" way.

"In order to highlight this technology or concept, we use design language to express it to assist the design of the space. All designs are designed to reflect this core point. So we will combine Sony's relatively new technology, such as this time floor vibration, the previous AR technology in the China Eastern Airlines brand showroom, and the use of Sony’s projection technology. Combining Sony’s relatively new things, our design language makes it easier for everyone to understand and accept these. This is the basic element of our new category design and idea."

Pop, a senior Sony designer, told Ai Faner that the Sony Design Center itself is an international organization. As an in-house design team, there will be guidelines from the Tokyo headquarters to ensure the background of Sony's design. Then every year, designers from all regions of the world will participate in certain projects, and everyone will communicate with each other to reach a common understanding. After falling to the local area, the different styles and backgrounds of each designer will be combined, coupled with the understanding of localization, it will be converted into different products, UI or designs.

"This is a relatively unique culture in our Sony Design Center."

▲ Sony China Design Center (Design Center China)

Like Sony, Apple is also a company that attaches great importance to design, but the styles of the two are basically the same. As we said before, if the former Apple is compared to King's Landing in Game of Thrones, Steve Jobs is the king sitting on the Iron Throne, then Jony Ive and his design team are the king's hand and cabinet members.

But in recent years, the style of Apple products has begun to tend to be pragmatism. Users can feel that Apple’s once strong sense of design has gradually shifted to functional compromises, so we can see the return of more interfaces on the new MacBook Pro. , also saw a better heat dissipation configuration, and the trend of no longer compromising functions for thin and light design. But behind the scenes, the right to speak of the design department may be gradually weakening, and at the same time it is becoming a team that focuses on cost-benefit.

How to strike a balance between design and function is also a problem that members of Sony China Design Center cannot avoid. Fortunately, Sony Design already has a mature methodology.

Zheng Qi pointed out that Sony did not say that design must serve technology, or technology should serve design. The two are in a harmonious state that complement each other.

"There are many projects we have to face together, and there are many cases of different types, but the core has not changed, that is, we must use the power of technology and design creativity to convey emotion, and the two must complement each other."

Indeed, on the one hand, the design cannot be realized without actual hardware technology; on the other hand, the hard-core black technology cannot be directly handed over to users, so there must be a high degree of cooperation between the two, and clever design is required. Integrate cutting-edge and hard-core technology into the daily life of users.

"With technology first, we will first understand what this technology can do, and then design how to make people use this technology. On the contrary, our design department makes proposals every year, thinking what life will look like in the future, design Create an ideal state that we think. Then we hand over this design to the engineers in the business department to see, let them understand our ideas, and consider whether they can cooperate with us in this direction.”

Pop added a project example of "One Day, 2050":

"Sony Design Center specially planned a 2050 project for the 60th anniversary. That project is more similar to how to look forward to what kind of living conditions human beings will be in 2050 from the perspective of designers. This kind of In this state, what kind of solutions and products should we make for him, such as houses floating on water, etc. Such a vision will become a proposed design for the business department and give them some inspiration. This is The second type."

In a word, design can drive technology, and technology can lead design.

Sony is more than just a consumer electronics maker

It should be noted that today's Sony Group is no longer limited to a supplier of consumer electronics. At the same time, it is also a global enterprise spanning music, film and television, entertainment, games, finance and other fields.

Therefore, Sony design is not only industrial design (ID) for Sony electronic consumer products, but also interaction design (UI), user experience design (UX), communication design (CD) extended to space design and multimedia content design.

For example, the "Play with Gravity" Sony Expo 2021 Sony Charm Award event that Ai Faner participated in before was coordinated and designed by Sony China Design Center. As an annual event, it is necessary to integrate Sony Imaging, Sony Video, Sony Music, Sony Audio, Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation) and other business lines, aggregate superior technologies, and present a three-dimensional and complete "Sony Family Bucket".

What left the deepest impression on me at the time was the stacked PS5 and TV sets in the PlayStation exhibition area. The step-by-step progression was visually shocking. What's more commendable is that the products of Sony's multiple business lines can be presented under a relatively unified framework, which is complicated but not chaotic, and also maintains the characteristics of different business lines.

On the other hand, Sony China Design Center is also simultaneously carrying out various research and insight activities to deeply understand the needs, preferences and lifestyles of Chinese consumers from the perspective of designers, so as to output more high-quality design products and services. Although Sony China Design Center is still an in-house design team of Sony in terms of its job, in order to keep design thinking advancing with the times, external output has become particularly important. I believe that they will be active in the outside world in the future trend.

"We hope that in China, Sony is not only recognized as a manufacturer of consumer electronics. In fact, we also have better content and more professional products, so they complement each other. We want to make full use of this."

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