A New Space for
Occupying the entirety of FANCL Ginza Square’s seventh floor, FANCL Genki Station provides game-like interactive content
that helps visitors learn about staying healthy. Sony's project team created the content in line with a request from FANCL Corporation ("FANCL"),
which wanted to inspire its customers to take an interest in maintaining good health.
In this article, the team looks back on the trajectory of the project with Ms. Yoko Mamizuka from FANCL.
Location Value Design Office,
Creative Center, Sony Corporation
FANCL Ginza Square
Location Value Planning Department,
Sony Business Solutions Corporation
100 years of health:
Supporting the age of longevity
with a sense of fun
Located on the seventh floor of FANCL Ginza Square, FANCL Genki Station provides free game-based content for visitors to enjoy as they learn about how to stay healthy. What led FANCL to create the space?
MamizukaFANCL wants to be a partner in promoting lifelong health. Not only do we promote our dietary supplement business, but we also have a preventive medicine museum at FANCL Ginza Square that offers free physical fitness testing. When we were doing a full renovation of the building, we decided to renovate one floor with game-based content that all ages could enjoy. That approach aligns with our hopes to help more and more people live healthy.
We consulted Mr. Uchiyama from Sony Business Solutions for some advice. We wanted to tap into Sony's experience in creating engaging, exciting games and entertainment with a global appeal. That whole dynamic fit perfectly with our aims to create content that would thrive in the Ginza setting––a district that attracts people of all ages, including foreign tourists. We outlined our initial ideas for six different types of content and asked the team to come up with a digital experience that would foster an awareness of health with a splash of fun. We wanted customers to leave with more energy than they had when they came in.
UchiyamaI'm involved in the production of spaces in B2B environments. When I heard about this project, I knew that sophisticated design would be key. So I asked our designer Shōji to get on board from the get-go, and we worked together to come up with ideas on how we could best cater to Ms. Mamizuka's requests.
ShōjiWhat was most important to us was hewing closely to the FANCL team's concept of creating a new space for promoting health. We needed to focus on that core idea and give it form. The FANCL team wanted customers to be able to come out of the space more energized than they’d had when they arrived. Over the course of extensive discussions with Uchiyama, I came to the conclusion that we wouldn't be able to meet that need if we only thought about the content itself and the look of separate content elements. We had to go beyond focusing on the entertainment value of each part in isolation. For us, the challenge was weaving a coherent story that would run through the entire floor.
As I explained the ideas and possibilities for each part of the content using Sony's technology at the initial presentation, I raised the question of how we could get customers to feel better through the experience. I emphasized the "story" element—underlining how important stories are in enabling that kind of positive user experience—and proposed that we think through it together, a suggestion that resonated with the team at FANCL. With that, the project began in earnest.
The importance of the story
for conveying the message
Why did the Sony team think the story was so important? What kind of story did you use to convey the six types of content presented by FANCL?
ShōjiAt Sony, we do a wide variety of spatial and UX design work, including exhibits at Milan Design Week in the past. But one constant in our approach is that we always try to tell a story that conveys the message of the design project that we are working on. In terms of FANCL Genki Station, we knew that the content could be fun all around—but we also knew it would be beneficial if there was a message for the customers to take away for the customer's when they left. Ms. Mamizuka and the team at FANCL had a clear concept for the floor as a space where customers would be inspired with an awareness of health and come away feeling energized. Working with Uchiyama, I set to build a story that would deliver on that concept through the customer experience.
The FANCL team proposed six types of content centered on health and fitness basics: a one-leg stand test; a walking-ability assessment; flexibility and muscle strength conditioning; diet and nutrition information; reaction speed measurement; and correct breathing technique. The question was how to adapt the topics and create a coherent story. As Uchiyama and I kept talking about ideas, we eventually came up with the ideas to divide the content into intuitive, easy-to-understand themes—"Know your body," "Enjoy learning," and "Get healthy"—that would give visitors a way to experience the content sequentially. It starts with encouraging visitors to take an interest in their own health. After that first step, we provide nutritional information that they can use to improve their health. The last part highlights correct breathing techniques, offering customers something refreshing and exciting to finish off the experience. That is the story we came up with.
UchiyamaIn addition to "writing" the story, I also helped with on-site coordination to ensure that we'd be able to leverage the designer's abilities to the full. As the FANCL team continued to think about the project, they also had various requests to enhance the project. I stayed in close contact with the site supervisor and passed updates on to Shōji, responding in detail to changes in FANCL's requirements. Every story goes through refinements, and that's how we did ours.
MamizukaThe story that Ms. Shōji and Mr. Uchiyama brought us aligned perfectly with what we were after: an experience that would change the customer's mindset. What we really appreciated was that they didn't just stop at the content—they thought about the entire space, including the interior design. We actually had an interior-design company on the job already, but the Sony team was emphatic about the importance of the interior design as a story element. They suggested that FANCL, the interior-design company, and the Sony team meet regularly as a way of keeping everyone on the same page. Thanks to that approach, we were able to unify the design of the space at a deeper level.
After completing the story, the team used Sony products to create the individual components of the content. What was your creative approach to the content? How did you tap into your imaginations to bring about the end result?
ShōjiThe FANCL team wanted to make the experience enjoyable for the customers, so we tried to incorporate a bit of Sony's playfulness into each content element. For example, FLAMIN-GO measures the strength and balance of one leg. It wouldn’t be very interesting if it just recorded the time you could spend standing on one leg, so we came up with a way to make that time enjoyable: when you're doing it, the screen in front of you displays a view of the streets of Ginza, and you move through the scene while you’re balancing on one leg.
With MANE-CCO ("imitation" in Japanese), which focuses on flexibility and strength conditioning, you see a pose on the screen, copy it, and then hold it. It’s easy to get bored while you’re just standing there, motionless, so we had to inject that time with some fun. In the end, we created a design where birds perch on your silhouette on the screen and flowers grow at your feet as you pose. Another focal point was sound, which we knew would enhance the immersive experience of each piece of content. For FLAMIN-GO, we used high-tempo tunes for the soundtrack as you rush through the city. We toiled over details like that so that customers could really focus on each piece of content.
ShōjiIn the visual presentation, too, we focused on making each piece of content appealing to a wide range of age groups. At the beginning, a character appears and gives instructions. We used a flat, clean illustration style to avoid making anyone feel excluded from the target age group. The aesthetic tone of the content presentation features bright colors on a gradient of green to yellow, first of all, and a font with a soft, light impression.
We also sought to make the experience easy and intuitive enough that customers would need to explanation to engage with it. When configuring the course-selection buttons in the content, we looked at parameters like average height and other factors for each age group. We then did an array of simulations to figure out the optimal size and position of each button. The interface includes English and Chinese language captions to make the experience seamless and straightforward for foreign customers, too. For us, it was all about ensuring that everyone, regardless of their nationality or age, could enjoy themselves as they went about engaging with their own personal health.
MamizukaMs. Shōji designed every detail of the content from the customer's perspective. Take the video production of SUU-HAKU ("inhale and exhale" in Japanese), for example. The content involved having visitors practice correct breathing techniques in a forest-themed rest zone at the end of the story. Given the nature of the setting, Ms. Shōji proposed adjusting the lighting in the scene to the actual time of day so that the visitors could naturally become immersed in the world. I really liked that idea. It’s the accumulation of these types of tweaks that enhances the overall experiential value of the content.
The color scheme of each content component (left);
SUU-HAKU, the visuals of which change according to the time of day (right)
Continually refining the space
to keep it fresh
FANCL Genki Station opened its doors in August 2020, with the grand reopening of FANCL Ginza Square. How have visitors reacted to it? What are the team’s hopes for the space going forward?
MamizukaWe conducted a visitor survey a few months after the reopening of FANCL Ginza Square. We were thrilled to see that 100% of customers at FANCL Genki Station said they had enjoyed it. The internal response at FANCL has been great, too, so I think we're off to an excellent start. Still, I think we can make it even more enjoyable. Looking at the details of the questionnaire, we found that customers of certain ages found the content a bit challenging at times. I want to look closely at how we can address and incorporate that feedback. Going forward, with the help of Ms. Shōji and Mr. Uchiyama, I want to continue refining this space to keep it fresh.
UchiyamaMs. Mamizuka clearly feels that it's not just a matter of making the content and then being done. There's always more to do. We want to continue proposing iterations of the content to take FANCL Genki Station to the next level. In doing that, we want to take on the challenge of creating new user experiences by combining Sony's three strengths of technology, design, and content creation.
ShōjiWhen we're asked to do a project for other companies, I think it's important for us to make the client's requests our core guidelines. It all comes down to how well we can take the ideas behind the project and communicate them to the world. In this project, Uchiyama talked through the FANCL team's requests with them to tease out everything, right down to the core components. He then shared all the information with us, which enabled us to design a product that matched the FANCL team's requests as closely as possible. Going forward, we'll continue to embrace and focus on the what the FANCL team is looking for. Working together with Uchiyama and our engineers, I’m excited to continue molding FANCL Genki Station into a place where visitors can always find fresh inspirations for staying healthy.
100 years of health: supporting the age of longevity with a sense of fun
FANCL Genki Station, which provides game-based interactive content.
Sony Creative Center will continue to create new user experiences through the power of design.