Computer graphic representation of what Sony’s designer Rikke Gertsen Constein said about “Visionary” of the Sony Design Philosophy. Computer graphic representation of what Sony’s designer Rikke Gertsen Constein said about “Visionary” of the Sony Design Philosophy.

We Must Build the
Sony Design Philosophy and
Make it a Part of Us

Rikke Gertsen Constein

Sony's design philosophy spoken by a CMF designer

Portrait of Rikke Gertsen Constein

The philosophy naturally becomes a part of us
through learning and experience

What are your thoughts on the Sony Design Philosophy?

“Create New Standards” is a philosophy that has been passed down from one generation to the next at Sony Design. It contains three elements: “Visionary,” “Integrity” and “Empathy.” As these elements suggest, the philosophy is not just about designing beautiful hardware. Instead, it speaks to the most human parts of our beings. So when I first heard about the Sony Design Philosophy, it struck a deep chord in me.

The philosophy is not like a checklist to glance at every week. Instead, it should be an integral part of every designer and a value that we continue to build at Sony Design. Looking at the philosophy now, it feels intimately aligned with the world we live in today. With so many uncertainties facing society in the wake of COVID-19, I believe we should prioritize our focus on “Integrity” and “Empathy” at all times.

to always challenge
ourselves to new things

Sony’s history has been shaped by the continuous efforts of its engineers and designers to advance innovation and the company’s vision. That in itself hasn’t changed, but in the past, we may have prioritized the creation of new things while somewhat sidelining the question of “for who?” For that reason, I strive to create designs every day that are in line with all three elements of the Sony Design Philosophy.

The first is to be “Visionary.” I believe this is synonymous with having a curious mind; to always challenge ourselves to new things and be a step ahead.

a commitment we must
make as a company

Next, to pursue “Integrity” we must determine whether something can be made into reality and then engage in its creation with sincerity.

This is a commitment we must make as a company. Lastly, “Empathy” is my favorite. This requires us to appeal to people’s emotions and understand social contexts at the same time. In terms of the latter, there is a lot we have to do. You may be hearing a lot about diversity and inclusivity these days, but we cannot allow them to be temporary vogue words. We need to integrate them into our lifestyles so that they become as natural to us as breathing.

‘Empathy’ - to appeal to people’s emotions and
understand social contexts at the same time

What do you value as a Sony designer?

When I was young, I was insistent on designing products that were new, interesting and different from others. Senior designers and my manager would then corner me with questions, like, “Is this really for the good of the users?” and “Is it pleasing to touch?” The questions all felt self-evident to me and I would get defensive. “I think this is good. I believe this is right.” My answers were all based on my beliefs.

Through this experience, I learned that we have to go beyond our own perspectives and think from the points of view of others. This ties in with the “Integrity” and “Empathy” elements of the Sony Design Philosophy. The things I learn and experience in this line of work are, in my mind, the philosophy itself.

Sony designers need to be intuitive

How can design contribute to the world in the future?

I’m currently a member of the CMF Framework Project, which focuses on formulating strategies to determine the color (C), material (M) and finish (F) of products. Our team is comprised of diverse members, all coming from different fields of expertise. This is because all products involve colors and materials; not just hardware but also various services, films and games, even UI displays on smartphones and virtual reality experiences. In short, CMF affects many of the fields that Sony is involved in.

The designers in each field, however, often don’t have the time to conduct large-scale research. That’s where we step in. By establishing a standard that we feel is appropriate for Sony, individual designers can use that as a starting point instead of needing to start from scratch.

Photo of various materials
CMF Framework Project

The first impression that comes to mind when I think of Sony Design is its hardware designs. They reflect outstanding quality and craftsmanship, and both are Sony values. When we launched the CMF Framework Project, 80% of our products were either black or silver. On the one hand, that in itself is a strong Sony DNA and a part of the company’s identity. On the other hand, we felt that we had come to a point where we needed to introduce new spice to better fit the current trends. If we want to talk more about diversity, if we want to offer our products to a broader range of people, if we want to be more open about meeting consumer needs and exploring greater dialogue, we need to change. I believe this is a necessary update of Sony’s DNA based on the “Empathy” of responding to the dynamics of today’s world.

In fact, the free and open dialogue happening between people in the world today is already affecting my sense of “Empathy” when working on designs. Our design discussions also include important global topics such as the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement and how people are struggling due to the pandemic.

Sony’s designs are made for all kinds of people. Young people, however, are using technologies in ways that are different from the way we did when we were younger, and they are acting more independently on various fronts. Not only do they buy and consume products. They also place importance on having their own opinions. In much the same way, Sony must make its stance clear and we must be transparent about our activities. We must listen to and understand people in different positions and speak to them in their language.

I believe the three elements of the Sony Design Philosophy, “Visionary,” “Integrity” and “Empathy,” include being able to listen, understand and include.

Family photo of Rikke Gertsen Constein

Rikke Gertsen Constein

Rikke joined SonyEricsson in 2002. She, currently, works in Design Center Europe in the Studio Nordic Design Center. She works with CMF
Framework Strategy, CMF design implementation and Innovative Material development.