Our point in common is an ambiguous boundary
Located on an/other TOKYO’s 2nd floor: the reception. On the front wall are multiple octagonal frames displaying an array of casual information: time, weather and corporate advertisements to visitors. Dubbed HIDDEN SENSES, this perfectly blended piece of digital signage is a SONY made device that optimizes technology that are closely involved in our lives. So, this piece of cutting-edge technology that was announced in 2018 Milan Design Week and subsequently gained a great deal of attention; what was the motive behind its introduction? Sony Creative Center Chief Art Director and the leader of this project, Tako Hirotaka, and Creative Director of an/other TOKYO, Kokaji Kazuki, explains:
Hirotaka Tako The first introduction of HIDDEN SENSES is in an/other TOKYO. Honestly, what led us to this decision was because it is costly to introduce a user experience-based technology. You have succeeded in creating an environment in which HIDDEN SENSES could blend in very well.
Kazuki Kokaji In a good way, the appearance of HIDDEN SENSES in the space it occupies is quite ambiguous. It is a piece of technology as well as it is part of the interior design.
Tako Well in that sense the boundaries of space inside an/other TOKYO is ambiguous as well, which is why they are a very good match. When we made the announcement in Milano Salone, we received great interest from many hotel personnel. Basically, that is the extent to which hotels today are struggling to provide a unique user experience. We were told that HIDDEN SENSES could be a very good solution to that.
Kokaji In fact, there is no sign mentioning “hotel” anywhere in an/other TOKYO. When it is called a “hotel”, its purpose and users will, in that moment, be constricted. Besides, for us the creators, if the preconceived notion of a hotel is not removed, we cannot present anything that is thought-provoking. So we sense an ambiguity. In terms of how much of the device is analog and how much of it is digital, I had felt exactly the same thing with HIDDEN SENSES.
An original, an/other-esque design
Tako One of my inspirations to create HIDDEN SENSES came to me when I was visiting a housing exhibition. In one model house, there were tablets set up on every wall, displaying tomorrow’s weather, water and electricity usage...various information. While it is a good thing to supply as much information as is possible, it risks turning the digital information we actually need to lead a comfortable life into digital noise. For me, I want to design a technology that blends well into the room, and at the same time actually make our lives more comfortable. A picture on the wall that makes slight movements to report the weather for example. The compilation of that resulted in the making of HIDDEN SENSES.
Kokaji For me, HIDDEN SENSES is needed for us to receive information at our discretion. The signage’s remote control is a block of marble in the shape of a dice. Menu instructions are engraved on each side of the hexahedron, and its content is altered when the surface direction is changed. It is an ambiguity in that its rotating movement is analogous to a dice but it is also a high-tech digital equipment. I developed it whilst picturing the smart movement of the frontman maneuvering it.
Tako When we showcased this idea at the exhibition, the dice was a world clock. We were surprised because you have modified it brilliantly.
Kokaji I had arranged HIDDEN SENSES’ original expression in an another-esque manner.
Assimilating into space and putting focus on the experience
Tako The ideal for HIDDEN SENSES is to incorporate contextual features whilst hiding the technology that provides user-experience. In a hotel that is completed with life necessities such as food, bed and bath; it is easy to implement. Think of long term travellers, it’s not just about having a tablet or smartphone in the room; but to have a “small moment of happiness” such as having a welcome sign on the door when they reach the room, that I think is the element that will make people comfortable. What’s important is to focus on the experience. I believe the concept color of grege in an/other TOKYO has the same purpose as well.
Kokaji What I thought was: first, to unify the entire hotel into one color tone, then to express “another” in the peculiarities that stood out. In doing this, anything that is not grege will inevitably stand out. In order to accentuate the color of food and the hotel guests, we made a monotonous canvas that will bring the focal point to its composition. It was a visualization of an idea based on the premise that there is no lead role in a hotel. Furthermore, there is a reason for using octagonal shapes in the interior signs and decorations. A square represents the standard. Because it is “another”, I figured it is a slightly chipped square = an octagon. It is expressing an/other’s trademark of “a little different, and a little new” in every corner.
Tako I see. And the fact that you do not declare yourself a hotel, in a good sense it is also blurring the boundary lines. Likewise, we have to bridge the boundary between analog and digital. It is needed now more than ever; in a time where technologies such as self-driving cars and AIs are naturally used, technology has to be integrated more naturally into our lives. That is why, HIDDEN SENSES wishes to be a good intermediary for that, whereby men and women of all ages can enjoy utilizing the technology without any knowledge about it.
Kokaji The hotel’s reception is a place where many will visit. Through HIDDEN SENSES, I think we will have the visitors experience technology not in an explanatory way, but intuitively.
Chief Art Director of Sony Creative Center
A member of Sony since 2004, Tako started his current position in 2012. He is in charge of General Home Appliances such as Life Space UX, television, home theatre, media player; as well as being responsible for creative direction of project R&D.
ziginc. Representative Director, Creative Director
Leads every aspect of branding from project planning to concept, product development, and promotion strategy. Conducts brand consulting in a wide range of ongoing projects that include apparel, cosmetics, food, electronics, hotels and theme parks both within and outside of Japan. He has also participated in many projects that are involved in the development of World Cultural Heritage and traditional crafts. A member of JAGDA.
Photographer: Yoshikazu Shiraki
Editor: Sawako Akune / GINGRICH
Writer: Shota Kato / OVER THE MOUNTAIN