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New COOLPIX S-Series Design

To propose new values in the market, all project members continue to work as a team.

Apparently, you decisively intend for the S-Series to introduce new values in design. Is this typical of your approach to design, Mr. Hashimoto?

Yes. I propose not only changes in product appearance - I propose new values to a market that is truly thrilled by and has a high regard for good industrial design. Actually, we originally based S-Series design on ideas of mine that I came up with before I became dedicated to digital camera design - ideas about the future of images and televisions, mobile phones and personal computers. I reconsidered imaging from various perspectives and discovered a simple, vital truth: now that digital cameras are truly portable devices, it is their designers' duty to make them beautiful. To establish beauty as a new value for Nikon cameras, I realized my ideas in the S-Series.

Beyond cameras, project team members share an appreciation of car, interior and other design aspects complementary to the S-Series aesthetic.

The cameras are beautiful and easy to carry in all circumstances, aren't they?

I hope so. And for more comfort and joy when viewing images, the S-series has new interface design elements, including the rotary multi selector.

It seems unusual for Nikon to make a high priority of product development according to new design values. Does this new approach allow you to maintain good working relationships with other departments?

I believe that everyone involved shares a sense of team unity in taking on the challenge of S-Series development. Some presume that this is a burden that weighs upon engineers especially, but I really appreciate how they are helping to execute more attractive design. We've also tried various new marketing approaches by effectively communicating with the marketing department. For example, we're collaborating with a famous interior shop to produce a stylish carrying case exclusively designed for the S1 and targeted at the Japanese market. As a team, we share a common purpose to speak with passion about the benefits and stimulate discussion of S-Series products.

The digital camera market is dividing in two. Appealing to people on either side of the divide could ultimately mean more fans for Nikon.

Compact digital cameras are getting even smaller and more multifunctional as market competition heats up. Which direction will COOLPIX design move toward?

Currently, you can see a lot of similarity among cameras in shops, but I think that the market will divide into two broad categories: authentic cameras with substantial functions for taking beautiful images, and cameras that serve mainly as network tools connectable to large-screen television for image viewing. I believe COOLPIX should go in both of these directions. Frankly, the S-Series will not likely satisfy all Nikon loyalists. To meet the expectations of longtime Nikon fans, it is absolutely necessary for us to produce authentic cameras, as Nikon has always done. Meanwhile, products that could offer new value should be important, too, as digital imaging environments evolve. It's essential for the COOLPIX brand to pursue both paths.

A tireless commitment to let the world know how superior Nikon camera performance is drives us to advance more creative design approaches.

Do you mean that COOLPIX cameras will be comprised of products “like Nikons” and “unlike Nikons,” respectively?

We never think of the S-Series as being “unlike Nikon”. However, we definitely want to appeal to consumers who haven't previously used a Nikon by presenting them with Nikon products featuring new perspectives on design. It will be great if customers initially attracted to COOLPIX design come to appreciate the superior functionality and performance that taking beautiful pictures requires. Those are the original virtues that Nikon has been providing, and which COOLPIX customers can take advantage of.

Well put. What do you aim to do on a daily basis to achieve that?

It is important to turn eyes toward the latest technologies, taking trends of mobile phones into account. But I have this to say about the tendency toward miniaturization and slim sizing. Although it is an important consideration for marketing mobile devices, fixating too much on smallness ultimately risks making cameras mere monitors with a frame, for example, which would be very boring, as far as I'm concerned. After all, I want to create a design that connects emotionally when someone picks up a camera. The power of design is of paramount importance to me. Even beyond product function, performance and price, it is the factor that makes a camera breathtaking, brilliant and successful.

What personal vision guided you in designing the camera?

In my private life, I am fascinated with antiques. When I go fly-fishing, which is one of my hobbies, I use many antique tools, such as a reel that was used in England in the 1950s and a fishing cooler that was used in the 1960s. I'm attracted to the personal touch and functional beauty that those items embody.
I usually have to design items according to the latest trends, so I think it would be nice if I could merge an antique aesthetic and current fashion into camera design. In doing so, I could learn from Italian brands, such as Ferragamo and Bulgari, which value both tradition and the spirit of challenge. Also, I'm interested in Japanese traditional craftsmanship, such as Japanese swordmaking. Such traditions arise from a minimalist l aesthetic. I love the idea of doing away with the unnecessary and cutting down to the bone, while devoting a lot of time and effort to tiny elements and details. I dream of designing a camera that is very compact, yet exudes a great deal of pride and presence.

Thank you very much for your enlightening insights, Mr. Hashimoto.
I look forward to seeing how your vision progresses.