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At CES a few weeks back, we caught up with Linda Lissola, creative design lead for Xperia Z1 Compact to talk creativity and inspiration…

It went a little something like this:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself – who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going…

I’m Linda. Originally from Sweden, I’ve been living in Tokyo, Japan for around two years now. Career wise, I started out in industrial and urban design, after a period of study in Central Europe, that included 6 enjoyable years in Italy.

I joined Sony Ericsson as a consultant initially, and I’ve worked on some of our mid-range and flagship smartphones, including those tailored for the Asia Pacific markets – it’s fun to be part of creating a vision for what a mobile product will come to look and feel like in millions of hands!

For now, I’m constantly getting to know myself better and learn through working, living, and experiencing different cultures.

What is inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere. All too often it’s pointed at specifics, but if you look (and you usually don’t have to look too hard), inspiration can found in architecture, films, books, movies…

But not confined to the arts; people inspire me. It’s important to be able to detach yourself from the hustle of working life, to be social and simply do things you enjoy – it’ll free your mind to keep you thinking and questioning.

Can you tell us a bit about the design philosophy behind Xperia Z1 Compact?

There’s obvious similarities to Xperia Z1, it’s a translation of the same OmniBalance design language into a more compact form factor. For me, OmniBalance represents equality; evocation of a certain appreciation of beauty, with a flow from all directions.

There’s a distinct difference between the two products though – Xperia Z1 is built for performance, but Xperia Z1 Compact (without compromising on any of that prowess) represents “expression” above all else.

Colours are often defined by association… or association is defined by colour – but why should that be the case? We wanted to do something different; be broader with the colour range. Pink and Lime are fun, fresh additions but they’re bold with attitude. For us, they are completely gender / usage / mood / personality agnostic.

What were the biggest challenges in moving from Xperia Z1 to conceptualise Xperia Z1 Compact – creating something beautiful, and fully waterproof, in a more compact form factor?

I think finding balance between creating bold differentiation, whilst retaining a premium feel – and because Xperia Z1 Compact has a significantly slightly smaller footprint than Xperia Z1, you’ll notice it’s ever so slightly broader to accommodate the same technology and features.

We overcame this by daring to be different with the new colours, and introducing the smaller form factor without compromising on any of the features that make Xperia Z1 so recognisably Sony.

How closely did you work with the design team behind Xperia Z1?

It was a very collaborative effort from the outset, we talked regularly, and still do…

Do you have a design hero?

I have a few actually, those that come to mind are: Bruce Mau, Bruno Munari and Achille Castiglioni. The reason? These guys were / are so open and different; willing to blend different (industrial and art) design disciplines to create something unique.

They are all creatives who stand by unconventional approaches.

Do you have any tips for aspiring designers?

I’d say there’s three key things:

Never stop, or let anything hinder your curiosity throughout life.

Try and accrue as much experience as early on as possible, whether that be with an internship or work placement. This way you’ll get a real feel for what you want to do, and what you don’t – you have to be passionate about something to truly enjoy, and excel at it.

And finally, it’s a cliché, but teamwork is so important in design. It’s important, productive, rewarding (and fun!) to be diplomatic, work together and share inspiration.