Computer graphic representation of what Sony’s designer Sabina Weiss about “Visionary” of the Sony Design Philosophy. Computer graphic representation of what Sony’s designer Sabina Weiss about “Visionary” of the Sony Design Philosophy.

Design and Technology
Have the
Power to
Eliminate Disparities

Sabina Weiss

Sony's design philosophy spoken
by a industrial designer

Portrait of Sabina Weiss

‘Visionary’ philosophy addresses
hidden drivers that impact
the future creation

What are your thoughts on the Sony Design Philosophy?

I believe all three elements of the Sony Design Philosophy, “Visionary,” “Integrity” and “Empathy,” are strong foundations to promote creativity. A big part of my job is to look into the future. I work on creating reports for DESIGN VISION, which is a research project that aims to explore the future and to generate a creative trajectory towards it. Our most recent report focused on social movements, changing behaviors and the underlying trends that create the future. To me being “Visionary” is not so much about predicting the future, but about the discovery of hidden drivers that impact it and acting on them to create the future we want.

Explore the future and generate
a creative trajectory towards it

“Integrity” is an important element to have, especially if there are many people involved in decision-making and the process is complex. Designers can’t create products alone. They need the help of the entire team, with members coming from different fields of expertise and diverse backgrounds. To me, the “Integrity” element is a steadfast goal that the entire team can reference whenever they are engaged in constructing complex processes or tackling difficult challenges.

Designs that reflect “Empathy”
are inclusive designs

“Empathy” is about putting yourself in other people’s shoes and thinking from their perspectives. It’s at the core of what every designer should strive to achieve. This is because designers should not be designing for themselves but rather for a greater number of people. So, for example, in the conceptualizing stages, they should be anticipating a broad range of users and coming up with designs that meet their needs. If a design intends to resolve issues for people with impairments, it should also be for the good of all other users too. I believe designs that reflect “Empathy” are inclusive designs.

I was previously involved in designing a product called the Wireless Handy TV Speaker (SRS-LSR200). Users can place the speaker close to them, wherever they are in the room, and hear the sounds from the TV up close. Those with hearing impairment can use the product and avoid turning up the volume of the TV itself, which may annoy others in the room. The speaker can also be used in other rooms or the kitchen – away from the TV, so that users can keep up with what’s going on on-screen while doing other things. This is what I mean when I talk about “Empathy.” It allows people with physical impairments to also join in the fun.

It’s important to set aside
some time to stop and reflect

I hope my experience of
working with
diverse people
can make helpful contributions.

What do you value as a Sony designer?

I originally studied innovation design engineering. The degree fuses the disciplines traditionally taught separately, such as science, engineering and design. So I have a background of working with people from different fields, which I hope can make helpful contributions to Sony in terms of cultural diversity and the way projects are approached.

My personal wish—and there are signs of this already happening—is to shed light on people who have remained in the shadows until now and to use technology to get their voices heard by many. Social media, for good or for bad, has made it possible to bring such people to the forefront of society. Through interviews with all kinds of people, I have come to realize that in addition to groups that are referred to as “minorities” in the world, there are many others who hold diverse opinions. For example, if more women could take a lead in the field of industrial design, I’m confident they’d come up with products that are of a different quality from what we’ve seen in the past. As a female designer, I’m very interested in seeing what would happen if gender equality succeeds in the world of design. Because design has the power to eliminate disparities.

Photo of Sabina Weiss showing examples of her projects
Sabina’s role spans from industrial to experience design

Being trustworthy is
what makes
Sony products unique.

Do you have any fond memories of a Sony product?

When I think about what makes Sony designs unique, the word “trustworthy” comes to mind. For example, my father would tell me how he bought his NW-S23 Walkman® back in 1975. It was his favorite device for many years because he could listen to music at any time, whether at work or while walking around in town. The Walkman was a sort of companion in his everyday life. As this shows, Sony products are not only trustworthy but also have the power to elevate people’s everyday experiences to the next level. Products are vehicles that deliver such unique experiences and the memories of such experiences are what people are most fond of.

Photo of NW-S23 Walkman®
The first Sony product from childhood

How can design contribute to the world in the future?

Today, we have grown used to how fast the world moves. We expect to see results immediately in various situations. But in some aspects of life, not getting immediate results is for the better. The human capacity to think and process information likely hasn’t changed much since ancient times, so it’s important to set aside some time to stop and reflect. We need to learn to be patient and take time making design decisions. That means designers must create time to reflect and think about their experiences. Doing so allows them to have more fun with the process, which will lead to creating even better products.

Furthermore, Sony is focused not only on creating products but also on addressing the issue of environmental protection. We can no longer create things, one after another, just to satisfy shifting human needs. If we could leverage our design skills to use circular solutions for everyday context, such as office interiors or other everyday products and services, I believe we would be able to facilitate greater awareness for environmental preservation.

Photo of silver ring crafted by Sabina Weiss
Sabina is training in silversmithing by her father

Sabina Weiss

Sabina joined the company in 2019 as industrial designer at Sony Design Centre Europe.
Currently working mostly on mid to long term projects with European R&D centres and in research, and occasionally industrial design projects.