Meet Tetsu Sumii, the man behind the look of PS4

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Lead image 4489_PS4_12

There has been a huge amount of discussion across the media about the inner workings of PlayStation 4 since its unveiling back in February. You’ve heard about how much memory it holds, what graphics chips it uses, how many GB of storage it boasts, and so forth. And in many cases, system architect Mark Cerny has spoken candidly about why these decisions were made.

However, there are of course two sides to hardware design: a system’s innards, and its exterior, and 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 launch model.

“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-san 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-san, who joined the project from Sony’s mobile phone division and is a newcomer to console design, duly brought with him a new perspective.

“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 Wireless Controller, the DUALSHOCK 4 Charging Station, the Vertical Stand, the Mono headset, PS Vita – everything,” says Sumii-san.

“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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  • It’s a beautiful design in my opinion! Simple but sophisticated! It does seem like a futuristic PS2, I like that :) and it fits perfectly in the playstation ecosystem and mentality

  • I LOVE the look of it to :P

  • I’m all in for the new design. It’s a little hard to judge without having seen the console on anything other than my computer screen. It certainly looks great from what I’ve seen though! :)

  • Wasn’t sure about it at first but I think I like it. I don’t really care that much about what a console looks like though as long as it’s black and that it can be ignored. I barely look at my PS3. No point. The TV screen’s where my focus is when using it.

  • I looks Gorgeous! I want it soooo bad!! Thank you Sumii-san!!!

  • Well I guess it is a pretty good design for Sony but it is still just a biscuit to me, but the specs are what sells it to me, especially that 8gb of gddr5 ram

  • It’s a great design. It can erase Xbox One from our memories ;)

  • I really like the design. It is rather simple, yet stylish. It is a nice object I look forward to having in my living room.

  • It looks beautiful, but who knows if they’re gonna stick to it. I mean, the first ps3 I bought at 2007 stopped being at production after a couple of months. Same goes for the one that followed. Gonna have to wait for at least a year and for a good bundle.

  • I actually haven’t taken a shine to the new model. It’s decent but not great. Not sure quite what it is. I liked alll the other Playstation launch models at their announcements. Admittedly, I wasn’t big on the first slimline PS3 but it looked a lot better when it was physically in front of me so hoping this’ll be much the same.

    Granted, the blue line is extremely cool.

  • There is one thorn in my side about console design and that’s the shiny surface that’s very fingerprints friendly, just don’t like it. It’s not something I have against that console but rather against general things with such surfaces. Not that’s gonna stop me from buying one though.

    Also since the dualshock 4 is double textured I hope the underneath one won’t make my hands sweats more during longer/more hardcore game seasons.

    And that’s 2 things I’m worrying about, beside that everything looks great.

  • it’s great and looks like an eraser and will rub out the [DELETED]box one. long live the playstaion. :)

  • It’s essentially a black rectangle; doesn’t take a genius to come up with that design, does it? The pad looks like an elongated boomerang, too. There’s literally nothing beautiful about the product, it’s basically a black box that will sit beneath my TV never to be noticed. All this ‘identity’ mumbo-jumbo that designers come out with is a bit silly as well, in my opinion.

  • I think it looks pretty awesome and I know for a face that I am DEFFENTLY gonna get it when it comes out on Novemember the 15 that’s for sure :)

  • I wasnt a Big fan at first glance i’ll admit but after the next to weeks it Hit Me, i especially love the Blue line,thats not neccessarily there just for show but to show the systems staus like standby and such! I especially love how it pulses like a heart when u wake it up! =) Thanks a million Sumi-san

  • I think it looks pretty awesome and I know for a fact that’s for sure and I am DEFFENTLY gonna get it when it comes out on Novemember the 15 that’s for sure :)

  • I think the design is fine but as a console it fails.
    For instance the USB port on the front is on a bevelled front in a deeper slot. Most of my USB sticks have something on them to protect the part you stick in the machine or are really thick and I’m almost sure they won’t fit.
    Also there are no USB slots in the back. So when I want to add a 3 terabyte HD to the console (not replacing a perfect but ultimately to small 500GB drive) the cable needs to go in the front! That is going to look ugly.
    Also not comfortable about using the Blu-ray slot. It’s again in a lower part of the console but will it slide in easily like it does on the fat and first slim PS3?

  • Can we please get some more info on the camera. It’s the only device we haven’t heard a lot about. What can it do, what’s Sony’s vision for it and should I buy it. I need to decide if I go for a bundle and need to know about the cam first.

  • Makes me wonder if he was using a lot of those things called ERASERS before he finally came up with this idea!

  • I think the console looks BEAUTIFUL! It’s small slim and it will fit perfectly in your home without any problems. Thank you for developing such a beautiful console.. I pre ordered this and paid this off with two games and PS Plus =) much respect!

  • i hate the look of it,it looks like its celotaped together and cheap looking hopefully it looks better when i get my hands on it,the original ps3 is the nicest looking of any console ever made

  • answer ottot questions aswell,and get the dualsock 3 working with the ps4 ps4 games can be played on ps vita tv with dualshock 3 there is no reason the ps4 shouldnt be able to either

  • @6 The hardest thing to forget is a great joke.

  • The console is never complete without the rotating PS logo. i really hope they’d consider bringing it back in the next iteration of the console design.

  • I think they’ve excelled themselves this time in terms of design.

  • I love the range of colors and the design of DUALSHOCK 4.

  • Its doesnt look bad per sé, but being a designer myself, I see several points where it fails: I see no aesthetic connection between the console, the DS4 and the camera (and the vita, for that matter). They bare no familiarity, which is puzzling since he talks about that being one of the goals. Also a lot of USB keys and connectors wont fit to those tight front slots. The cool blue stripe will not be visible a lot of times in real life usage in a shelf or next to your TV. Why not put the USB slots under a lid in the bottom cover and put the blue stripe next to the blu ray drive, where the useless USB slots are now?

  • tetsu sumii ur the man!! ps4 lik a beautiful woman elegant sleek and all the curves in the right places lol

  • I think great design is both simple and symmetric, so I like it. Well, maybe except for the line, which I hope won’t bother during playing, and how that one part has a different, more shiny finish.
    Noise seems to be very acceptable too for a beast like that.
    Dualshock 4 design I do not like at all, as vividly expressed.. Too big and clunky, ugly handles and overall shape.. It just looks too big and tight to me, missing those curves that the traditional model has. Like how those parts between the joysticks and shoulder buttons have been filled up now to make room for the touchscreen.. Just makes the whole thing look very bulky.. Overall shape even kind of reminds me of that horrendous boomerang model they considered for the PS2, probably because of the bigger handles..
    Thankfully the button positions didn’t change atleast. If they ever decide to go with the Xbox controller non symmetric joystick style, I’m done with console gaming, as console gaming is mainly Playstation gaming for me.
    Not interested in the camera at all either. Move didn’t get enough support by far and I’m not up for talking to my console..

  • @11 I agree, although I still wonder which is best.. Fingerprint wise, you’re definitely better off with the non shiny plastic surface, but when it comes to dust and everything, that just seems to come off easier on the shiny surfaces.. Purely visually, I like the plastic look more though. And I think it’s weird to have that one shiny part on this one..

  • ps1 Beautiful, amazing system, ps2, great and stunning,PS3 massive, but knew how to deliver and came out with some great concept looks and designs, PS4 WOW cant find a word to describe the PS4, its too perfect, i cant wait to see the other models, i personally think that this system has the potential to be the greatest, and i thank the designer for giving us that chance to make it happen

  • Can Ps3 and Ps4 play online together?

  • Thats like a game console in tron. :D

  • where do you put the disc i’m still a noob when it comes to this

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