In optics, transparency is the physical property of allowing light to penetrate through a material. We often experience physical transparency through glass, water and plastic materials. Transparency heavily influences contemporary architecture, product design and has been used in electronics for quite some time i.e. iMac G3, Ghost Chair. This condition embodies a sense of lightness, creates healthier environments due to the penetration of light and often defines the vocabulary of our contemporary lives.
Socially, transparency has a great buzz nowadays. Our global behavior of indulgence, greed and lack of concern for conservation has brought us to a pivotal time of fear, uncertainty and lack of trust. Transparency implies openness, communication and accountability. We have seen transparency being implemented by governments through efforts to establish trust with the people. We have also experienced transparent communication through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and many others; these networks have allowed the global community to speak freely and openly, connecting all of us through a channel of communication. Transparency has also changed media as user generated content continues to increase and change the way we consume and project information. Coping with our behavioral uncertainty is eased by this transparent media; the ability to see through and see all.
Product designer Tokujin Yoshioka has an immense and ambitious interest in transparency.
"I have been attracted to objects that are simple yet impressive, that is, to things that reveal their nature as objects through the transmission of light and the release of light depending on the angle."
We have seen some of Yoshioka's work here at Yatzer in his Swarovski installations at Crystal Palace and The Invisibles, but now he is leading a smaller and progressive product, the new X-Ray phone for KDDI iida which was presented at Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi during Tokyo Designers Week 2010. After many iterations and perhaps a bit of saturation in the mobile product line, the X-Ray brings freshness and inspiration once again to the mobile phone.
We have all witnessed a mobile market that seems to be releasing product after product looking very similar. Materiality, color, and experience on the object has been lost. Tokujin speaks to the desire of creating the phone from the inside out. He explores even how the interior circuit board looks when seen through a material, as it leads him to configure, color and even type on the interior PC board so it becomes part of the product. Working in close collaboration with engineers and hardware specialist, Tokujin Yoshioka recreates a product to look natural from hardware through interface.
Yoshioka's exploration of materiality, technology and hardware shows promise to what is possible in creating beautiful technology not only in its function but also in its form. The X-Ray phone also shows a 7 x 102 dot-matrix LED Sub-display that was uniquely developed for this product. The display communicates to its users the time, exploration a great feature and great way to give texture, interest and beauty to this product. The X-Ray's rich details extend from its inner core to its graphics as it maintains the simplicity and richness to create a seamless experience from product through interaction. In the mobile product line, a mere 1/10 mm difference in design gives the phone a different feel to the person holding it. Yoshioka not only achieves spatial comfort between user and product but also allows an emotional connection as the X-Ray dazzles in materiality, display and hardware layout.