Fusion of logical “packaging” and visionary “styling” | WIRED.jp Latest


*From the magazine “WIRED” Japanese version VOL.50 special feature “Next Mid-Century”. Click here for details.

The Japanese version of “WIRED” has interviewed Syd Mead twice. The first time was in 2014 for the movie “Elysium” in which he participated as a concept designer – the beauty of the Stanford torus space colony! ─ To coincide with the release of the DVD & Blu-Ray in Japan, Tomu Kawada (developer/three AR brothers), who is well-known for the series in this magazine, conducted an interview (WIRED.jp “A journey through the past and the future with Syd Mead”). Quest to connect through design”). In the same interview, we will excerpt impressive passages in which he talks about the behind-the-scenes aspects of his creation.


KawadaSid became involved in film after a 20-year career as an industrial designer. Since then, you have continued to work as an industrial designer in parallel with your work in film. Has your approach to industrial design changed before and after you became involved in film?

meadDesign in movies is actually no different from design in the real world. For example, I had a 12-year contract with Philips Electronics, and I approached the design with exactly the same mindset I used for the film. Under what circumstances will the product be used and how will it be held? The problems designers have to solve are the same in movies and real life. In both cases, the story surrounding the product is important. I think about that all the time.

KawadaI read in an interview that Sid-san regularly reads all the literature on science and technology for his work. Do you ever read books, regardless of work?

meadI don’t read much SF. There are a lot of terrible works out there (lol). I’m definitely interested in economics, biology, science magazines, and what’s going on at the cutting edge of technology. I don’t want to feel embarrassed and think that something I designed will turn out to be an impossible design 10 or 20 years from now.

KawadaThere are many terrible works in science fiction novels, but what specifically do you feel is terrible?

meadWriters must completely convince readers and audiences of their entire worldview, both scientifically and technologically. And there has to be an invention somewhere. There are really very few works that solve all of these problems. You have to go into the novel world and invent what you really need. Will the future be dark or bright? The story is the most important thing, and there also needs to be a reason why the story was written.


Syd Mead says that the story surrounding a product is important for designers to solve problems, whether in movies or in real life, and the reason why that story was drawn is also important. This attitude could be seen in his second interview. In 2018, Daisuke Ishii, current director of Sony Group’s Creative Center, and master designer Noriaki Takagi visited Syd Mead with the recently released AIBO, and they accompanied him (WIRED.jp “Vision and Execution”). It’s time to “walk through the gap and implement the future we dream of in society.”

meadI have been involved in the work of depicting the future for 50 to 60 years, and what I have always tried to do is to make the viewer empathize with my work. I always draw pictures of a very strange future, and that’s why I always include pictures of people as a trigger to show that it’s actually coming. By drawing people, you can give people a sense of security, like, “This person seems to be comfortable,” or “They’ll be okay even in this kind of future.” Furthermore, when envisioning the future, we must consider the entire environment. It’s not enough to just show one part of the picture; it has to be a picture in which the environment, things, and people coexist. If it doesn’t make sense unless you take it out one by one, something must be wrong.

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