2021.3.31 | Design Work


NIKON PLAZA TOKYO is a facility equipped with a camera showroom, service center, Nikon college, gallery, and more. It was renewed in 2020, along with NIKON PLAZA OSAKA, as a space that provides new experiences, co-created by users and Nikon together. Here are the passions and story behind the renewal project of NIKON PLAZA TOKYO in Shinjuku; the newly reborn NIKON PLAZA.

Design Center
Life Imaging Lab
Takeo Fuwa
Design Center
Life Imaging Lab
Junichi Omi
Customer Support Department Manager
Nikon Plaza Section
Nikon Imaging Japan
Hideki Sasao

Designing an experience

Takeo Fuwa, Nikon user experience designer, says: "Our world is filled with an enormous amount of information. However, I imagine that many people feel that although they might think that they've learned and experienced lots of new things, it doesn't leave a real impression in their minds or memories. I suspect that a great number of people feel a sense of dissatisfaction or frustration with this."

"That's why people desire things that last as memories, forever — values that are obtained from their own experiences. I believe that this is part of the background of the current trend of focusing on the intangible, rather than just what is tangible."


Mr. Fuwa oversees UX design, the short term for User Experience design, which involves the design of experiences as well as the product, and is utilized in the development of various Nikon products.
We at Nikon wanted to incorporate this idea for NIKON PLAZA, in order to create an inspiring space that provides memorable new experiences.
In this society overflowing with abundant information, our hope is to offer experiences that leave lasting impressions in the minds of our users, and to enrich people's lives. This is how our team's challenge began.


Experiences that only Nikon can deliver

What kind of place should NIKON PLAZA be reborn as? Hideki Sasao, who during his career has long listened to the voices of camera users at both sales sites and while involved in product planning, possessed a certain ambition.

"It is of course extremely important to enhance camera functionality and specifications. However, to encourage people to want to use your product, it is important that the experience itself is enriched so that it is much more meaningful to the user. As Nikon, what experiences could and should we provide to our users? We extensively considered this point."

Expression. That is the keyword the team finally arrived at after many discussions.

"During my career, I have been putting my full efforts into creating the best camera possible. It is said that we now need to focus on selling services rather than the products themselves in the current industry market. Even in this mainstream, however, I have pursued the manufacture of products thoroughly to the best of my ability.", says Junichi Omi, a camera designer and one of the project members.

"I have been extremely focused, perhaps even slightly too particular, about improving the durability and reliability of cameras as well as capturing beautiful pictures. Yet, I have not just been pursuing specifications, for at the heart of my commitment I had an intention that I wanted to satisfy people who try to venture out and convey something special through cameras. I realized this after many discussions."

People who set out to try and convey something special. Mr. Fuwa explains that such people are not only photographers and artists.

"For example, adventurers or journalists. They try to express something of value as well. They bravely challenge severe environments to capture and convey scenes or happenings that nobody has ever witnessed before. Their outcomes excite and impress the whole world. Their way of life itself can be described as an expression or an artform. Nikon cameras have been constantly supporting such challenges utilizing their advanced reliability and excellent durability."

The concept of the new NIKON PLAZA is to offer a location where anyone can enjoy fascinating experiences based on expressing and to suggest new ways of living, alongside information about cameras as equipment.


Discovering the potential of expression

What actually is an expression in the first place? And why do people express?
The team members and Mr. Fuwa deepened their discussions in order to delve into the details of user experience through the process of expressing.

"People express themselves in order to output what they have inside their minds either just for themselves, or to convey and share it with someone as a connection with others. Even if we just use the word expression, it includes various ways to express, such as through music or dance. And I think every human being has a natural desire to express."

What exactly should we offer to make people aware of this fundamental joy of expressing?

"Expressing by itself is not a special thing. However, by putting your own will' into what you express, the expression becomes your very own and nobody else's. I would like to create a place that makes visitors more aware of this fact. This was the answer that came to us at the end of all our discussions."

Starting from here, we have embodied various ideas.

One example of this is a touch and try service. This rental service allows you to freely carry the latest camera around in the plaza by removing the cord that connects the camera to the display furniture, and take pictures freely. This reflects one of the thoughts of Mr. Sasao, who had been interacting with visitors to NIKON PLAZA.

"Until now, most of the visitors viewing the photo exhibition at the gallery adjoining the plaza were satisfied with just saying 'oh, they were good photos' and then would leave the gallery. However, if the visitors are able to feel that they can express something by themselves after viewing the gallery photos, their own world of photography and imaging expression can expand a little more, I thought."


NIKON PLAZA TOKYO is also equipped with a shooting studio that visitors can utilize to express their own creative imagination, with props available that they can freely use for shooting, which might increase the chances that they will discover their own desire or inspire some possibility in their minds.
In addition to the photo exhibitions that have been held for some time, NIKON PLAZA TOKYO houses exhibitions of works by art university students and workshop events with invited lecturers. It has been reborn and transformed into a special place where you can experience various types of expressions, and where those who express can inspire each other, rather than being a mere showroom where you can see cameras.


Creating a place to find your own special expression

Mr. Sasao explains that the new NIKON PLAZA offers an encounter with an expression of your own, that is, a very special expression.

"You can meet various expressions, not just view photographs, pick up cameras, and actually take your own pictures. Through such experiences, I am sure you will discover your very own expression that you have never noticed before. I want to give shape to the image I have in my mind. I want to convey it. If you realize that a camera is a tool that can help capture and convey such special expressions, I will never have been so happy as a photography enthusiast."


The venue also has a system intended to improve its services every day while listening to the voices and requests of visitors.

The arrangement of display furniture and counters used in the exhibition can be freely changed, and the colors and intensity of the lighting can be finely adjusted. It's easy to change the layout of the display in the afternoon based on the visitors' voices you heard in the morning.

Instead of a one-way approach from manufacturer to user, together we will co-create a place as those who express, who share the same feelings with each other. Such a co-creation cycle has now started to turn.

"It would be great if we could connect with more people through this new space. We would like to enjoy the chemistry produced by interactions with people who we have never had contact with before."

NIKON PLAZA will continue to evolve day by day as a place to support those who express and to develop their potential.

For all who express, and with all who express

Takeo Fuwa: "I think that an image is the best way to convey what those who express intend and what they want to convey without ambiguity. The process of projecting one's own feelings onto an image by utilizing various elements of a camera, including color and focus point should be valued for human beings as creatures that express. I hope to share the joy of expressing with as many people as possible through NIKON PLAZA."

Junichi Omi: "There are various kinds of expression, and the attraction of photography is being able to condense information into a two-dimensional form and to make a recording that will become familiar to you. A camera allows us to transform a mere record of information into a special memory through the intentions of the photographer. Now that we can enable diverse expressions through images, I would like to help people realize the great features of cameras again."

Hideki Sasao: "We would like to launch new projects one after another as a location where we can receive various stimuli related to expression. We are enjoying the process ourselves, and would also like to enjoy it together with the visitors at this stimulating place called NIKON PLAZA. I hope to keep you excited. I hope you will continue to pay attention to it."