The winning entries of the Roland Digital Piano Design Awards feature radical reimaginings of the keyboard instrument.

In 2015, digital piano specialists Roland launched a competition to create a brand-new digital keyboard concept on the theme “Unleash”. The results have produced a range of radical reimaginings of the traditional piano design that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a sci-fi blockbuster.

The Roland Digital Piano Design Awards were open to designers and design students from around the world. Competitors were encouraged to conceive a futuristic instrument that broke away from tradition. While the focus was on the look and structure of the piano, competitors had the option of proposing alternative digital functions and sounds as part of their concept.

Winner of the Grand Prize, Jong Chan Kim’s Facet Grand Piano

Korean designer Jong Chan Kim took out the Grand Prize with his sleek, geometric Facet Grand Piano. “In my initial design concepts, I focused on how to translate an iconic grand piano’s design to a piano of the future,” said Kim, who studies at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “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 instrument while also enabling me to give it a futuristic look.” The design also includes a full touch screen for interfacing with other digital enhancements.

Excellence Award winner, Nicola Russo’s Sonus

Sonus, a fluid design by Italian digital graphic designer Nicola Russo won the Excellence Award. “Music and design share a lot in common, especially in terms of creativity,” he said, “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.”

Rebekah Winegarner’s Amber Unleashed

With 128 entries, the judges had a lot of worthy submissions to choose from. Although originally it had been planned to grant only a single Incentive Award, the high calibre of the applicants led to not one, but five Incentive Awards, including Romanian designer Matei Cristecu’s Black Swan, Polish designer Tomasz Miłosz’s space classica. Two Japanese designers made the list, Naohisa Uchiyama’s emptiX and Taro Saito’s Black Swan. US designer Rebekah Winegarner is a standout, with her stunningly dripping Amber Unleashed.

Tomasz Miłosz’s space classica.

“We received many superb works and new concepts from all over the world, and we are extremely impressed with the results,” said Roland CEO Jun-Ichi Miki, “The response to these awards has made us recognise once again just how much interest and passion there is for the piano in 2016. From here, we will keep pushing to develop the ultimate concert grand piano, an instrument that offers appearance and expression in perfect harmony.”