Tom Waldner and David de Léon, Sony’s Head of Creative Product Design and Interaction Director, respectively, took some time out to explain the principles behind the OmniBalance Design of the Xperia Z Android smartphone. You can view their excerpts in full, as well as our recent hands-on demo video from CES, below.
Tom Waldner – Head of Creative Product Design – Sony Mobile
“With Xperia Z, our goal was to create a smartphone that has a unique design expression, whilst at the same time is easy to understand. In other words, a balance of design that is beautiful and logical and appeals to your emotions and reason. We use smartphones in all areas of our life and they are becoming deeply integrated into our behavior and society. Xperia Z is the first of our products to have the new theme we are calling “OmniBalance design”. Omni means “all” or “everywhere” – it represents the omnipresence and the multitude of smartphone uses. This principle of OmniBalance is embodied in the design execution – a minimalistic form where only the essentials remain, with balance and symmetry throughout. It is essentially a plate of glass that has the edges and corners softened and strengthened in an encasing frame.
We focused on emphasizing the display experience; the aim is to avoid detracting from what you are really interested in – your photos, videos, movies, games on the amazing display. The idea is that Xperia Z, while standing out as a beautiful product, is comfortable to use in all situations, blends into the overall experience, and emphasizes the vibrancy of whatever might be on the screen. We want you to notice the design, but it’s when you don’t that you really appreciate it…
We also know that details matter. So, we precisely crafted each part of Xperia Z with highest-spec materials – for example, durable tempered glass for the front and the back, and aluminum keys allowed for precise detailing. The screen glass is glued directly to the body to eliminate a layer of air, bringing the display closer to the lens for added touch sensitivity, improved image and smaller size.”
David de Léon – Interaction Director – Sony Mobile
“In our user interface design we stick to the same core values that govern our product design. Our aim is to provide users with a simple and direct way to do the most important things. This requires sensitivity on the part of our designers to what people want to do, their thought processes, and to the contexts in which our devices are used. Observing people use our devices plays a big part in getting the design right.
Smartphones are incredibly powerful and it is challenging to keep them simple without compromising on that power – on all those things that people want to do with them. Our approach is to think of the interface as layered. At the top, if you will, we present users with a clear picture of what an application is, and what it can do, all the time focusing on the most frequent and important activities. We then carefully layer in more advanced functionality, taking care to not get in the way of the basics.
Is this having our cake and eating it? We hope so!
Our graphic style follows the same general principle: the interface is elegant and restrained at first glance, but there is great attention to detail, and meticulous craftsmanship, that you discover over time. This ensures that the design stays fresh.
In short, that we try to hit the values of simplicity, usefulness, elegance, craftsmanship and power.”