Recently here on Zath we’ve covered several new Sony BRAVIA home éntertainment products that were unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010, these included BRAVIA HDTVs, 3DTVs, Blu-Ray players, surround sound systems. All of these new products had a common theme in terms of their design, they all feature Sony’s latest Monolithic Design Concept that certainly makes them look appealing and stand out from the crowded market of home entertainments systems.
Here at Zath we’ve been lucky enough to interview the director of Sony Design Centre Europe (DCE); Takuya Kawagoi who has overseen the implementation of this new Monolithic Design Concept for these products.
Takuya Kawagoi took up the position of director of Sony Design Centre Europe (DCE) in February 2009. In this role he will undertake a pivotal role in directing the young DCE team and providing his vision for Sony design in Europe. Tak has been an instrumental figure in Sony design since joining in 1991 where he first worked at the Tokyo Design Center before moving to London for his first UK assignment as a senior designer at DCE.
This was followed by art director positions at the creative center in Tokyo and in the global marketing team at Sony Ericsson, where he developed the iconic Sony Ericsson logo. Tak has vast experience in the development of brand communication and understands exactly which aspects of packaging can help products reach their potential in markets overseas where particular styles must be kept in mind. Further branding for the iconic Sony Ericsson logo, BRAVIA TV and alpha digital camera range campaigns have played parts in Tak’s design career at Sony.
1) The launch of the new range of not only TV’s, but devices across the board, revolved around the ‘Monolithic Design Concept’. Could you tell us exactly what this means and the idea behind it?
The idea of the Sony BRAVIA Monolithic Design concept is that it combines aesthetic appeal and minimalist style to create a design statement in its own right. Monolithic Design uses beautiful surfaces, high-quality materials and a minimalistic, functional style to transform the living space. Everything is geared towards a unique entertainment experience – from the ultimate performance when everything is switched on, to beautiful design that complements the living room when it’s turned off.
Every detail in the BRAVIA Monolithic Design concept has been carefully considered, from the contrast of high-quality materials and flush screen surface (which looks spectacular whether the TV is on or off) to the option to recline the TV at a 6 degree angle – ideal for viewing from low, contemporary furniture and for adding a sense of space to your room.
2) These new TVs continue the long standing Sony tradition of being aesthetically top of the pile. How important is it to the company to continually provide such stunning designs?
Design has always been at the forefront of Sony’s thinking in developing new products. There is no point in developing groundbreaking technology if it is housed in a product that people think is ugly. Our European Design Centre, which was established in 1980, is dedicated to building on Sony’s design heritage and developing beautiful products with the juxtaposition of our cutting edge technology and aesthetic design. This is at the heart of the thinking behind the Monolithic Design concept and will feature across all of our home entertainment products in 2010.
3) The TVs seem to fit ideally into every environment they are thrown in to. How difficult is it to come up with designs that appeal to people of different cultures with extremely different households?
It’s certainly a challenge to fit every country’s individual needs, especially in Europe where tastes vary so much across the continent. However, by looking at overall trends in interior design we have seen that minimalistic design is in vogue across Europe and indeed, the world. So we have tailored our new range to fit in with rooms boasting stark, clean lines.
4) I think it’s fair to say that the designs are fairly minimalistic. To look at it feels fairly reserved in that it’s not at all striking. Would you say that ironically, it is the discreet nature of the design that ultimately makes it stand out from the crowd?
This is exactly the point of the Monolithic Design concept. The TVs are designed to look as good switched off as they are switched on, complementing the overall design of your living room, rather than looking out of place. By having a flush surface and no unnecessary decorations, the new range of TVs allow the viewer to focus 100% on the HD quality pictures that are being generated, without having your line of vision distracted by the edge of the TV or visible buttons.
5)  Presumably you want your customers to instantly recognise the high quality of Sony product design? In terms of the various selling points of a Sony home entertainment product, how important and at what stage of development does the ‘visual design factor’ come into it?
‘The “visual design factor” is something that is included from the very beginning of the design process. If the looks are left to later stages of the design process, they can be very costly and even impossible to integrate and include. It could be compared to building a house where security has been added as an afterthought; to get the most out of the security, it has to be included from the very early stages in the architect’s drawings.
A television to us is so much more than a box in the corner of the living room and instead is an integral part of the home. So, it’s all about placing the living room at the heart of the home entertainment experience as well as creating a seamless balance of design and technology.
Our customers know what they want, and in an aesthetically pleasing home it is important to have a television to complement the design. The domestic design market is moving more and more towards minimalism and we feel we have an amazing concept to showcase’.
6)  How do you decide about what direction to take your product design when starting out in designing a whole new family of products as you have done with the “Monolithic Design Concept”?
This question is perhaps best answered by watching Sony’s own ‘Make Believe’ video in which they go into the specifics of how they go about designing their TV products.
Zath: A big thanks to Sony and Takuya Kawagoi for taking the time out for this interview, hopefully you’ve now got a much better understanding of Sony BRAVIA Monolithic Design Concept as we certainly have here at Zath and look forward to seeing more of these products as they’re released.