Mar 31, 2017 82

For every day and special moments. Life Space UX and HOSHINOYA Kyoto talk about what informs and inspires their approaches to creating living spaces.

Life Space UX seeks to offer users new experiences by transforming the spaces around them. In 2014, this concept came to fruition in the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector, followed in 2015 by the LED Bulb Speaker and in 2016 by the Glass Sound Speaker and Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector, the first in a series of revolutionary new products that are redefining home electronics. Recently, one of the creators behind the project, Consumer Experience Producer Maya Morihara of the Sony TS Business Planning Office, visited HOSHINOYA Kyoto to meet General Manager Toshiyuki Sakai.

Life Space UX team member Maya Morihara visited Kyoto and found that when it comes to meticulous attention to creating living spaces, Sony and HOSHINOYA have a lot in common.

HOSHINOYA Kyoto installed Sony Glass Sound Speakers, further enhancing the level of comfort and hospitality for which it is famous. But what is the philosophy behind this meticulous attention to creating living spaces that HOSHINOYA and Sony share? Before leaving for Kyoto, Maya Morihara sat down to talk about why she joined Life Space UX.

"I joined the Life Space UX team because I wanted a new challenge," Morihara explained. "The thought of failure never occurred to me. I was just excited to be doing something new and enjoyable. HOSHINOYA is known for its warm hospitality, its meticulous attention to creating spaces, and to how users experience those spaces. In that sense, I think Life Space UX and HOSHINOYA have a lot in common."

The concept behind Life Space UX began with the realization that modern appliances interfere with the aesthetics of an interior. 

HOSHINOYA Kyoto lies nestled in Arashiyama, the western hills on the outskirts of Kyoto famous for their autumn foliage. Morihara sat down to talk with General Manager Toshiyuki Sakai at HOSHINOYA's elegant bar, inside a converted storehouse, amidst the warm glow and dulcet tones of a Sony Glass Sound Speaker.

Morihara: "What do you look for when you're designing a space?"

Sakai: "At HOSHINOYA Kyoto, our goal is to offer our guests special moments. We want everyone to experience the aesthetic beauty of ancient Japan. We feel it's important that our designs engage all five senses, in particular the element of sound. When we heard Sony's Glass Sound Speaker for the first time, we had an immediate and visceral reaction. We knew it was exactly what we needed to create the unique experience we were looking for here. How did you and your colleagues come up with the Life Space UX concept?"

Morihara: "When we began looking at photographs of beautiful houses we noticed something interesting. There wasn't a single electrical appliance in any of the photos. We think modern appliances can destroy the aesthetics of an interior. They restrict how we move through a room and even the layout itself. That's where the concept behind Life Space UX came from. Our goal was to create a product that offers users a whole new experience while blending seamlessly into its surroundings."

Sony Glass Sound Speaker– In tune with HOSHINOYA Kyoto's spirit of hospitality 

Morihara: "How have your guests responded to it?"

Sakai: "At first, they either don't notice it at all, or they ask, ‘Where's that sound coming from?' When you tell them it's a speaker they're astonished. They often ask to use it to listen to music outside while having tea, or enjoying an excursion in our boat."

Morihara: "One unique feature of the speaker is the way it plays crystal-clear audio in all directions, 360 degrees. The sound fills the entire room. The image we had was of a candle or a small fire, something people could sit around and enjoy."

360-degree sound stage, filling every corner of the room.

Sakai: "How did you go about turning that concept into an actual product?"

Morihara: "For optimal sound quality, we wanted to make it as big as possible without looking out of place on a table. That's when we hit on the idea of modeling it after a wine bottle."

Sakai: "So what are you planning to do next?"

Morihara: "I think this is a product that will let people create spaces where they can live in a way that feels right to them. My goal in the future is to create many more new and exciting products like this."

Sakai: "The level of attention to detail packed into even something as small as this speaker is certainly something that we here at HOSHINOYA Kyoto can appreciate."

Life Space UX creates products that let you turn anywhere you go into your own personal, intimate space. 

After her conversation with Sakai, Morihara paused to reflect on how she feels about her work and facing the challenges that lie ahead.

Morihara: "I think it's always important to try new ideas without worrying about what might happen if you fail. Of course, there have been setbacks and difficulties. But I feel privileged to be making things that people all over the world can use, and most of all to be doing what I enjoy."

Finally, we asked Morihara what "Sony" means to her.

Morihara: "For me, Sony is about being a pioneer and not being afraid to tackle new challenges."

And what's your philosophy?

Morihara: "I believe in always having a positive attitude and giving everything my best shot."