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SI: The Essence Of Monolithic Design

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It is said that timeless philosophy sparks innovation. Home entertainment products have been welcome presence in our living room for years, and that’s why they must embody something essential and not look outdated as new trends emerge. Enduring qualities help these products blend in well and constantly satisfy us. But designers must also capture something new, something that makes us want to update our living room, and even our entertainment habits themselves. Sony’s quest to save the world from aesthetically boring products created by competitors has resulted in a new vision called Monolithic Design. In this interview courtesy of Sony Design, we learn from the members of Sony’s Creative Center about the meaning of this concept.

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Matsuoka: From the beginning, Sony has stood for doing the unprecedented and staying one step ahead. These principles motivate us to strive for originality, inspire new consumer lifestyles, show the beauty of functionality, and emphasize usability—our design philosophy. All of this is fundamental to our work as designers, and they remain constant goals of ours.

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Before designing home entertainment products for 2010, I wanted us to rethink design and take a fresh look at these elements of our philosophy. Our goal was design surpassing traditional trends and techniques, and design that can shape consumer values and lifestyles. In other words, design that can realign people’s values. With this in mind, we set to work.

In creative work, we draw on our own experiences and sensibilities to express ourselves. But groundbreaking inspiration rarely strikes if we face the same routine every day. That’s why our first step was to send some designers to other locations around the world to collect ideas for exploration. I knew that their inspirations, aesthetic discoveries, and exciting experiences there would expand their creative repertoire and prove indispensable in design development.

As soon as they returned, we discussed product qualities they felt people should appreciate. What design themes should be reflected in new Sony home entertainment products? We discussed many potential directions to take, many ideas for textures, colors, and so on. Yuki’s proposal in particular struck a chord with me—the concept of a single panel.

In its purest form, a panel or monolith has no extraneous elements at all. It’s primitive and directly conveys its inherent nature. For this reason, upright panels look attractive and powerful. As timeless, fundamental forms, panels don’t bend to fashion, so to speak. They can stimulate people, enticing us to update our d

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