The Japanese manufacturer Roland has changed our idea of what to expect from a musical instrument. Last year, it unveiled an Alexa-powered piano. But it's in 2015 that Roland made a huge leap, launching the Digital Piano Design Awards, an open call that challenged designers and artists from all over the world to reinvent the 300-year-old grand piano. Winner of the prize is the Facet Grand Piano by Jong Chan Kim, a designer born and raised in Seoul who works in the USA. In his concept piano, there's no soundboard but digital speakers placed within the base sound chamber; in this concept piano, the lid serves as the canvas for audio reproduction, making sound waves bounce to the audience; there are also a full touchscreen display and a projector.
The design is visually striking — The Verge describes it as the Cybertruck of Grand Pianos — but it's the audio process that makes this instrument unique: “The sound is generated from the base unit through the outer frame and reflects on the piano’s top board”, Roland explains, “This audio process is a unique concept that takes full advantage of a digital piano’s potential and enhances it”. Facet represents a fresh approach to the structure of the piano, with a disruptive appearance, yet it keeps the logical structure of the piano.