DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
IM : Pianos are fading , they haven't changed for centuries! Therefore they no longer fit into our modern lifestyles.
There is a huge gap between what a contemporary piano should be, and what it really is right now. Our main objective in this project is to resurrect this idea of 19th century piano and Re-imagine it as a 21st century product.
DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
IM : Piano is a unique product with a soul. It's role in our lives is much more than just a music instrument. Piano is also a very distinctive aesthetic element that dominates it's surrounding and changes the vibe of the environment in which it is presented in.
Our goal was to create a fully customizable piano, that fits seamlessly into our modern lifestyles and contemporary interior spaces. Our approach was to design a music instrument that extends it's function to a 3D sculpture that is in perfect harmony with it's surroundings.
DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
IM : We are planning with our partners to make this unique piano available for order in very limited numbers. In fact 88 pieces only for the entire planet! Pre-orders can be placed through our website. Our designers will work with each client individually to create their own exclusive and one of a kind piano. We are expecting to deliver the first pianos in late September.
DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
IM : The project (internally codenamed: Eclipse) started in 2016. Our journey to find the optimum balance between high-tech and traditional took a few months. We were expecting to finalize the design and sound engineering by the end of 2017! But being perfectionists, it took us another year on op of that to develop technologies to fine tune the performance and achieve the perfect aesthetics. That's why we are so proud of the project, after all it's the result of our team's three years of effort and hard work.
DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
IM : It was a calling. We have been dreaming of bringing this idea into reality for a long time. This exotic concept, simply does not fit into any piano manufacturers portfolio, it's too risky for everyone else.
DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
IM : From day one, it was crystal clear for the entire team that we need to produce it in-house. As the project progressed, it turned out to be way more complicated and high-tech to be entirely outsourced or leased out to be manufactured by another company. We were extremely lucky to be based in California, where there is no shortage of world class talents nor advanced technologies. We firmly believe such a disruptive idea like Exxeo piano, could not have been materialized anywhere else other than California.
DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
IM : For me as a designer, nothing is more important than being able to embrace my creativity and freedom. Coming from automotive design background, I knew there is not much freedom in the conservative Auto industry. There was no room for guys like me to make an impact. So I searched for categories of products that where closer to my soul. Products that have been frozen in time, yet still had an enormous amount of potential to be explored. As mentioned earlier, I had this calling about pianos that turned out to be a perfect match. So much potential, but frozen in time. I teamed up with other professionals, not surprisingly mostly with extensive automotive design experience, and got started. The rest is just history.
DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
IM : I was lucky to have my wife Mina Eshghipour beside me, she is a talented color and trim designer and a wonderful project manager. My partner Pierre Julia, who is an extremely well known expert in the field of high-end pianos in Los Angeles. He is responsible for developing our bespoke sound system in a joint venture with our partners in Japan and Italy. My mentors, Samuel Chuffart and Adnré Frey played a critical role in our success by making sure we are on the right track. Also Cedric D'Andre and Wen Chen who shared their insights and knowledge on manufacturing techniques and customer relations.
DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
IM : Art collectors, Entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals with a progressive mindset who love music and appreciate good design.
DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
IM : Exxeo piano is the first of it's kind, it's the only Hybrid piano in the world with a fully customizable Carbon fiber body and a dedicated built-in battery. But we believe what truly sets it apart from the rest of the crowd is the customer's engagement in the process of making the piano. It's a unique experience to co-create the piano of your dreams with a team of world class designers.
DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
IM : Exxeo doesn't have a specific meaning, but it has it's routes in the English word Exotic. However the project was internally codenamed; Eclipse, which reflected our vision of outshining every other piano out there.
DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
IM : Obviously every method and tool which is considered to be industry standard in Transportation design and Aerospace.
DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
IM : Every team member has his or her own favorite unique aspect. Some say the WOW factor of observing it as sound waves sculpted in 3D, the others enjoy the technology or the unique materials.
To be honest my pick would be the overall presence of the piano which is dynamic and fluid yet very Elegant . It has all the elements of a Timeless design, a future classic.
DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
IM : Building an object as complex and full of state of the art solutions such as the Exxeo piano, not only takes brilliant minds, but real artists. We are proud to have technology leaders like Kawai, Onkyio, and Icona among our partners; redefining the limits, finding new solutions, processes and technologies.
DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
IM : Design is in our DNA, we don’t consider ourselves as a Tech start-up, neither our piano as a Tech product. But we took advantage of the latest and best technologies available, to solve the numerous challenges we faced during the development process. Utilizing some of the most advanced sound engineering break throughs as well as latest material and fabrication technologies.
DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
IM : Market research and customer clinic sessions are considered to be the norm in developing a product or service for the masses. It's a standard procedure to achieve a solution which is good enough. This is not how you are supposed to achieve great designs or awesome jaw-dropping products. It only leads to another average product or service.
We are certainly NOT average, neither are our respected clientele. Customer clinics only reflect the past not the future. It's not who we are.
DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
IM : First and foremost, there was no benchmark! Being the first is exciting but definitely not easy. There was no clear target to hit. How on earth we were supposed to know if we are on the right track? Doubt was constantly present through out the project, it felt like we had an additional anonymous and invisible team member.
Our next big challenge was the procurement and sourcing the right parts, and off course the king of all challenges; forming strategic partnerships with industry leaders.
DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
IM : We are very excited to share the result of our efforts with design industry's top talents, receive their professional feedback, and improve our work upon it.
DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
IM : It was a fascinating journey that led us exploring new frontiers, facing and overcoming our fears. It more or less felt like a self-discovery rendezvous rather than a typical design project. Succeeding in challenging projects like Exxeo piano requires team members to go all in, and preserve decipline while expecting and experiencing the unexpected. Overcoming this sort of obstacles boost the confidence and prepare the team to tackle even more challenging projects.
DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
IM : I would like to thank our team, our partners and our friends and families who believed in us and made this possible. I want to thank our future fans and customers in advance, for their support and joining us in the movement of resisting average.