PS4 Designer Tetsu Sumii: Every Angle Matters

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PS4 Designer Tetsu Sumii: Every Angle Matters


There has been a huge amount of discussion across the media about the inner workings of PS4 since its unveiling back in February. You’ve heard about its speed, its power, its storage capacity, and so forth. And in many cases, system architect Mark Cerny has spoken candidly about why it was built that way.

However, there are, of course, two sides to hardware design: a system’s interior, and its exterior. Until now there hasn’t been too much talk about the latter. Duly, last month I spoke with Tetsu Sumii, the chief designer of the UX Platform Design Group — the man responsible for PS4’s external appearance — to learn a little bit more about the design principles behind the new system.

“When we started the product design for PS4, we didn’t start by thinking about what the shape would be. It was more about how we were going to create a new brand identity through the product,” he explains.


Without offering details, Sumii tantalisingly admits that his first concept was “totally different” to how PS4 has eventually ended up. That said, his core philosophy for what the PS4 should be remained consistent, and is clearly evident in the bold, striking lines and contours of the final design.

“I just wanted to make a simple object for the living room. Sometimes products are a little too exaggerated. It should be simple. That’s my thinking,” he states.

Moreover, Sumii explains that he put emphasis on ensuring the machine looked good from every angle, whether gamers chose to display it flat on its belly, or upright in its stand.

“I think about the horizontal, not just the vertical,” he says. “I think about the 360 degree view. The reverse should be beautiful, too.”

While PlayStation heritage certainly wasn’t thrown out the window (veteran PlayStation gamers might be able to spot some PS2 DNA in PS4’s look), it’s a brand new hardware generation, and accordingly warranted a fresh approach. Sumii, who joined the project from Sony’s mobile phone division and is a newcomer to console design, brought a new perspective with him.


“One of my tasks is to create one single PlayStation identity. I wasn’t just thinking about the console but also about the DualShock 4, the DualShock 4 Charging Station, the Vertical Stand, the Mono headset, PS Vita — everything,” says Sumii.

“I think the PlayStation brand image needs to be changed a little bit, as it’s a new console, and we have to show what we’re pointing towards for the future. So I thought it should be one of the most smart, cool, and intelligent products from Sony. Not just from Sony Computer Entertainment, but the company as a whole.

“This should be one of the best, coolest, most sophisticated products we’ve created. That’s what we were striving for,” he reiterates.

Handling the striking, compact PS4 hardware immediately after our brief conversation, it’s hard to disagree that he’s pulled it off. And with launch now less than two months away, it’s not long until you’ll get to decide for yourself.

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  • interesting :)

  • Nice! Great post!

  • Very interesting read. The console looks so good I actually want to put it in the middle of my living room.

  • cant wait

  • But there’s no PS logo that you can rotate for vertical-ness :(

  • Can we still preorder or is it to late?

  • Since the ps4 is smaller then the ps3 will it feel solid like the vita does trivial I know but makes it feel not so cheeply made?

  • Absolutely stunning work!

  • @Light74474
    You can still pre-order I’m sure. Just too late to maybe get a day one. But placing your order asap increases your chances. There will also be selling at the retailers on release day so can hope for that if you want but maybe not everyone will get one if your too far back in the line

  • I’m just glad it’s not rounded :)

  • Pretty interesting, always been a fan of Sony design.

  • One thing I worry about is the idiots that will put the bulkier xbone on top of the ps4 and make the ps4 overheat. Although, then you’ll probably have the even bigger idiots that will put they’re ps4 on top and completely block the exhaust vent on the xbone.

  • *their

  • what scares me is that all the points made about the exterior all of them were about media strategies, any pc gamer would know that you can have a great system and a crappy case can give you some serious issues from overheating, forced hardware mounting due to layout limitations, and can overall effect how well set up the hardware is… was there any thoughts what so ever in regards to how the design could help the hardware not face any of these issues?

  • Already have a space in my entertainment cabinet cleaned and ready to go.
    Almost 1 month to go…

  • One of the best designed products of 2013 ! , unlike some companies who decided to design a VCR (insert troll face here) .

  • 36 Days till greatness arrives..11-15-13 = Early Christmas..Thank you Sony.

  • It’s certainly the sexiest and coolest device I’ll own this christmas, and for years to come I believe.

  • I just wish they had updated the pastel colors of the face buttons. Might have looked god on PS1 gray in the 90s, but it looks terrible on black today.

  • Many of us would appreciate having a blog article that discusses the details of upgrading the PS4’s HDD.

    The PS4’s included 500GB HDD will not hold more than 9 downloadable AAA games such as Killzone: Shadow Fall which will be approximately 50GB. Therefore, many of us would like to upgrade the HDD to at least 1TB.

  • It is the most amazing design that I’ve ever seen. Thank you Tetsu Sumii! <3 *bows head*

  • I like to see a tear down of the hardware to see the inner working system. I also like to see how you upgrade the harddrive in the PlayStation 4. I like to see how they built the system to continue to keep cool.I plan to install a solid state drive in my playstation for it sometime. I put a solid state drive in my Playstation 3 and have noticed a increase speed of the XMB and loading games such as when I play Battlefield 3 I always seem to be the first one in the game. I like to know what speed is going to be the internal hard drive of the PlayStation 4 is it going to be 7200 rpms or greater? I also like to know if possible how much faster will a solid state drive be in the PlayStation 4 verse is a standard hard drive.

  • I also like to purchase a new over ear headset kinda like the Pulse Headset but a upgraded version that has been made specifically for the PlayStation 4 to take advantage of the new DualShock 4 headset connection. I currently own a Turtle Beach PX5, the only things I dislike about my headset is having to switch out my AA rechargeable batteries about ever 2 full game session’s. A built-in rechargeable battery that last 2-3 days and can be charged while playing at the same time is recommended. I want the headset to Support 7.1 channel surround sound and it would be nice if it didn’t require a base station unless that decreased the quality of the sound because I don’t currently mind my base station for my PX5’s. Easy button access and great microphone sound and noise cancelation.

  • Looks great. Tetsu Sumii is very talented. As is Teyu Goto and the rest of Sony design crew – I was always impressed by Sony product designs, especially PlayStation.

  • “DualShock 4 Charging Station”

    Release date please, I love this about the PS3 and keep my charging docks where I sit so I can just reach over an pull out a controller to play. I don’t want to fool with charging cables and plugging into the PS4 so I will snap this up day one, but I want details please!

  • This design choice for the PS4 & the dual shock are amazing. Day 1 shipping from Amazon!!!!!!!!!!!

  • While I can find parts about the Xbox One design I do actually enjoy, ultimately design is a holistic approach – not only to the styling of the plastic case, but its inner-workings. The PS4 is a beautifully considered device. From the integrated power source (no brick), to the rechargeable batteries in the controller, to the use of standard headphone jack for the headset and microphone – SONY is as forward thinking right now as they have ever been. Their design reflects that.

    As a graphic designer, I appreciate their attention to detail.

  • PSM for new territories!

  • Oops, sorry. Wrong post!

  • Hmm, not bad but PS4 looks like PS2? I still don’t see how or why other people say it looks like PS2 in some way. Maybe I’m not noticing but overall design of the PS4 is so awesome and I can’t wait to put this beautiful console next to both my PS3 Slim and Super Slim, PSP, and PS Vita on the same stand.

    I love to have own 1st PS3 model so i have 3 PS3 together and the same for PS2 (But PS2 i had die out and its possible to fix it now sense someone here at my home drop water on PS2; truly sad), i did own PS1 but forgot what happen to it, PSP, and PS Vita.

  • Thanks Fred.

    I would have liked to read a bit more about his inspiration and thought process to the final design.

  • @14 Jayrabbit
    That’s a concern I have also. The Xbone and the PS4 are near-identical in the internals, yet the PS4 is 2/3 the size for the case. I hope Sony doesn’t take the RROD crown this generation.

  • I’d also echo jayrabbit, it would have been cool to hear him talk about how things such as internal design might have effected the external design. Did the heat dissipation change the design, or help it. Things such as that.

  • it looks good but the were other designs that looked way better IMO. i wished it was less square… well… theres always ps4 slim… hoping for that time they do something more kool with it.

  • Can we see some unused concepts?

  • The design is pretty, but another black console? I’m kinda sick of that color. You should have made it silver or white, like this:

  • very nice

  • When can we find out when the DualShock 4 will be available in Magma Red & Wave Blue in the US?

  • @30, the PS4’s design is a throwback to the PS2 slimline model.

  • I think the PS4 is by far one of the prettiest consoles ever designed, and I’ve been playing for quite a while. It looks really, really slick and the small size impresses (especially considering how powerful it is!).

    Congratulations and thanks so much for your good work with it.

    Can’t wait to get my PS4!!!

  • Not sure if this is the best place to post this but i figure the blog staff could help me with this.

    I just got an e-mail saying i can get $10 back by extending my PS+ membership, and that there is also a sale going on right now for spending $50 and getting $10 back (PS+ included). Are these to separate deals and i can get $20 back for getting PS+, or is it the same deal just highlighting the fact i can get $10 back on PS+ right now and just not explained very well in the e-mail?

  • That is one great-looking console!

    On another note, I would love to know about the hard drive and how easy it will be to upgrade. Do we know the specs of the hard drive and what will be compatible? I want to go ahead and order a new one and have it ready to upgrade my PS4 on day one so I won’t have to worry about transferring stuff, redownloading, etc. Face it, 500 GB is nothing these days! Especially when Killzone will take a whopping 10% of that right off the bat!

  • It’s elegant, sleek, and it has character.

    I absolutely love the design of the PS4.

  • Can’t wait to have it!!!

  • I finaly got my ps4 thanks sony

  • I’m glad the ps4 looks like a high end console , like the ps3 originally did instead of like a cheap plastic tow like the newer ps3 models . It will look right at home next to a high end tv and stereo system which it should

    No more trying to hide that ugly , but functional ps3 super slim behind a plant in the living room .
    can’t wait to try the ps4 , greatness awaits for sure

    now back to playing beyond two souls for a while , finished it once , now getting a new ending – what an awesome game it is – not at all like heavy rain other than in small sections . a lot more interaction and actual game play when in those cool cia missions

  • cant say i hate the design, but i definitely dont like it. guess they were going for a retro look. reminds me of a Tetris piece or some super powerful ancient device

  • also going to miss the sliding door on the super slim

  • @ #22 Most likely the hard drive in the PS4 will run at 5400 rpm. I’ll most definitely replace mine on day 1 with a higher capacity, faster HDD. Its great that Sony gives us this option. Did it with my PS3 and it was a quick, almost simple process (need the most recent software update on a flash drive to update the new HDD).
    Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry tested the performance differences between
    the stock PS3 HDD(5400rpm),
    a 7200rpm HDD
    a 7200rpm HDD/SSD hybrid drive
    and a SSD drive
    Results varied by game but in most cases the hybrid drive and SSD were significantly faster than the rest, with little difference between them.
    Games that use the hard drive alot saw alot of benefits.

    I got myself a 1TB 7200rpm hybrid SSD (for a whopping $110!) just waiting to be shoved inside a PS4 lol. A pure SSD is just too expensive and with only a miniscule performance increase over a hybrid drive, its just not worth it.

  • @7 I’m guessing that the internal hardware will likely be as packed into the console as the internal Vita hardware is, meaning there’s a good chance the console will be heavier than it looks.
    In regards to the hdd size, I’m pretty sure that it will fit as many titles as the 500gb PS3. Killzone’s exception. Single player campaign and a full multiplayer mode. Most launch titles should be close to the same size as PS3 games are, maybe a bit bigger. I have over 30 titles on my 250gb hdd.
    Also, the network is supposed to be faster, probably a better wi-fi device on it, architecture is more suited to online (was still an expirement during PS3 launch, and entirely free, since only XBL was a successful online console presence until Sony development made PSN what it is today. The PS4 is built around having a network, and the gui doesn’t require installs of digital games the way PS3 does from what I’ve seen. Should be much easier to delete games, make room for another game, and re-dl that game later than on PS3. I can’t say the network will be perfect at first. Even if download speed is the same at first, you still don’t have to wait for a five hour install process. :)

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