Roland look for the ‘future of piano’ with unique designs in award competition

Roland held a digital piano design awards to get some of the world’s unheard minds to create unique new designs that could inspire future Roland pianos.

Roland are synonymous with some of the most high quality pianos and keyboards in the world, but their ‘Roland Digital Piano Design Awards’ sought to show off the creative minds outside of their talented in-house teams.

The theme for the designs was ‘Unleash’, setting out to find a digital piano concept that breaks with tradition and creates a new style and sensibility for the instrument. Now the results are in Roland said, on their official awards page:

For almost 300 years, the piano has enriched our lives with its expressive sounds and played a central role in our musical culture. Roland has been at the forefront of piano innovation since the release of our first all-electronic piano in 1973. In the summer of 2015, raising the bar once again, our next-generation high-end Roland digital pianos debuted with modern digital features housed inside luxurious cabinets. With the Roland Digital Piano Design Awards, we took another leap forward in digital piano design and technology, breaking free from traditional forms and sounds. In collaboration with the planet’s most forward-thinking designers and artists, we set out to push the boundaries and explore the future of digital pianos. The results are in…

The grand prize went to Jong Chan Kim for his ‘Facet Grand Piano’

The Facet Grand Piano is designed with two keyboards in mind: “unique” and “elegance”. All of the speakers are placed within the base sound chamber not only to boost the sound quality, but also to introduce a new design that challenges current perceptions. The solid base produces accurate and excellent sound quality that will be sure to astound audiences, while the absence of a soundboard completes the instrument’s modern expression.

The lid’s function is also critical, serving as the canvas for audio reproduction, with sound waves bouncing off it towards the audience. Unlike other digital pianos, it has a full touchscreen for interfacing with other digital enhancements. The Facet is a true vision of the future, breaking with traditional styles and methods of piano construction.

electric digital piano awards competitionSouth Korean born and raised Jong Chan Kim said on his design: “First of all I did not expect to win the Grand Prize, and I really appreciate Roland for giving me this great design prize. In my initial design concepts, I focused on how to translate an iconic grand piano’s design to a piano of the future. I was thinking through many different perspectives of the piano.

“Then I decided that putting a speaker at the bottom of the piano would allow me to maintain the design essence of the piano while also enabling me to give it a futuristic look. I give thanks to my mentor, Tim Tan, who gave me good advice, and to everyone who decided to choose me for the Grand Prize.”

Roland also commented on Kim’s design, saying: “The basic structure of this piano cabinet is truly striking, seemingly “floating” on the base unit, which is equipped with the sound system. The sound is generated from the base unit through the outer frame and reflects on the piano’s top board. This audio process is a unique concept that takes full advantage of a digital piano’s potential and enhances it.

This design offers a fresh, innovative appearance while keeping the logical structure of the piano. Its attractive form, realised through polyhedron styling, is visually stunning and well deserving of the Grand Prize. The design idea leaves room for further development with the projection of lighting and visual elements on the top board in addition to the sound.”

The Excellence Award went to Nicola Russo for his futuristic ‘SONUS’

piano Roland competition awards

Sound waves, harmonic fusion, infinity – the Roland SONUS makes visible what sound waves generate, from vibrations to shape; a piano design as elegant, fluent, continuous, and eternal as the infinite movement of the music. The keyboard appears from under the glossy surface of the black or white top, while the integrated piano seat flows from this dynamic shape naturally. The Roland SONUS reflects a constant state of motion, embodying the infinite waves of music.

Designer, Italian Nicola Russo said: “I want to thank Roland for this amazing opportunity. I read that four-and-a-half out of every five graphic designers work while listening to music, so both music and design share a lot in common, especially in terms of creativity. Both seek to establish some kind of connection, imparting a carefully crafted message into everyone’s psyches where, hopefully, it will resonate for hours, days, and months to come. It’s a magical balance.”


You can see all the other finalists under “Incentive Awards” from Roland’s official page for the Digital Piano Design Awards.

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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