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Canon IXUS designers interview

Ilse Jurrien
Photokina report
Tuesday 19th, September 2006
Posted by: Ilse Jurrien

Although Canon is celebrating their 10 year's IXUS concept as an exceptional milestone of product development Canon did not forget to mention the creators of this unique design; Yasushi Shiotani and Seiichi Omino. Yasushi Shiotani is the designer of the original Canon IXUS camera. In the twenty years since finishing his studies in Japan, he has worked exclusively for Canon. He completed his advanced studies in Italy, Milan. Seiichi Omino is the designer of the first Canon Digital IXUS model. He studied in Tokyo and during a career with Canon spanning eighteen years, has been responsible for the design of such blockbuster products as the Canon EOS 350D digital SLR camera.

Canon IXUS designers

IXUS designers interview - 10 Years of IXUS
The following article is a transcript of an interview we received from Canon Europe. According to Yasushi: "At the start of the project we had a minimal brief. The product engineers gave us a set of specifications to work to, we were told the target weight and size of the camera, and from that we began to create the first mock-up. When you give anybody a piece of paper and ask them to draw a camera, they will draw a box and a circle. That is the most simple, the most iconic image of a camera that exists in everyone’s mind."

Seiichi Omino - Designer of first Canon Digital IXUS model
"The box and circle is the key concept of an IXUS camera. Staying true to that concept for Digital IXUS was one of our key design challenges. The difference between the construction of conventional camera and a digital camera is that, because of the positioning of the battery in a digital camera, you cannot place the optical axis in the centre. We looked at the wide space in the centre of the camera and thought very hard about how to incorporate the key motif without losing a sense of balance. We found that when we moved the circle just slightly from the centre, it added to the character of the camera. This off-centre circle came to define the look for the new digital generation of the IXUS models."

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Yasushi Shiotani - Designer of first analog Canon IXUS camera
"APS was a brand new system, so we wanted IXUS to have a fresh new look. Canon had always used aluminium for their cameras, but in this case we wanted to use another material, stainless steel. Using Stainless Steel created a number of new problems for the mechanical department; they faced a great challenge in making a camera work at such a compact size. Research and development had to work very hard to meet our requirements. But I didn’t see their work. I deliberately avoided contact with the R&D department, because that way we would stay true to our vision and avoid a diluted consensus view. So we gave them no feedback, we simply asked them to develop a camera mechanism that would fit inside our design model."

Canon IXUS designers

Seiichi Omino - Inspired by vintage cameras
"We were always striving to make the camera more compact. With the Digital IXUS we achieved a reduction of 50% volume and 70% weight compared to the previous Canon digital camera. The IXUS design is very much inspired by vintage cameras. In vintage cameras, the attention to detail in each and every component is clearly visible. This is not always possible to recreate in the age of mass production. But with IXUS we wanted to create a mass-market camera where the design of each element shows real craftsmanship. The surface materials and technologies may change, but the basics of IXUS won’t change. The box and circle design is integral to the brand. That will always stay the same."

Canon IXUS designers

Yasushi Shiotani - Striking fashion accessory & High quality camera
"Before we started the design process we asked all the women in the department if we could look at the contents of their handbags. We found that they contained a lot of items. By looking closely at the size, the feel and the look of these things, we began to get a sense of the kind of objects that women feel comfortable carrying around. We decided to develop a camera that would fit in a lady’s handbag; that would be both a striking fashion accessory and a high quality camera. The Canon logo is normally placed horizontally across the camera, but with IXUS we placed it vertically. This means you can read the logo when the camera is hanging around someone’s neck. This gives a different message about the camera as a fashion object. When we were designing the IXUS, I was more interested in emphasizing the unique design quality of each individual component rather than focussing too much on the harmony of the overall object. I wanted to create a whole new design concept where every component justifies its own existence. This is not a luxury product, but it has a feeling of luxury. You expect expensive goods to have a good design, with a more affordable product you sometimes sacrifice that. But With IXUS we have three strong elements: Good design, valuable materials, and an affordable price."

Canon IXUS designers

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