People People is a Stockholm-based design consultancy that recently unveiled a home audio concept in keeping with their user-centered approach to design. Thus, the Invisible Speaker is primarily intended to do away with the labyrinthine, headache-inducing chore of audio cable management... and to look good doing it.
Just making it all connect in the right way is tricky enough. Making it blend in often feels impossible unless we would build it into our walls. The thing is, hiding stuff behind walls is both expensive and difficult, and a lot of people actually want their hi-fi stuff to be visible. So we realized there are some improvements that should be made to this situation, and set out to meet the three following issues:
- People want music to sound good. How can we let the music equipment blend in nicely, while still be proudly perceived as high tech?
- These days people keep music in many different digital places. How can we allow people to play it without hassle or cables everywhere?
- Electronic waste is a huge environmental problem. How can we design something that doesn't add to that huge landfill?
Besides the striking aesthetics of the cab—my mind jumped to Roy Lichtenstein—the design effectively 'short circuits' the complications of copper-wire and with a Wi-Fi input that remotely connects to the transparent speakerbox itself.
The transparent design lets the speaker blend in to any living room out there. The size can be big enough to offer a good sound quality, yet the speaker takes little visible space. The box is transparent, but the sound-creating components are clearly emphasized.
The speakers come with a small wifi antenna, that can plug in to any computer, music player or smart phone out there. It will also work for old stereos or vinyl equipment. The aim is to set the music free regardless where it's stored.
Moreover, People People's concept tackles the issue of sustainability by minimizing weight, packaging and transportation costs, though sourcing glass locally strikes me as quite an ambitious undertaking:
Being big is good for sound quality, but not so good for shipping. Any other speaker will ship a lot of air around the globe before ending up in your living room. This speaker ships in a small, flat package that goes in through your mailbox. The glass sheets making up the box is being ordered through the glass repair shop closest to every single customer. In that way the speaker reduces shipping with up to 90%, and supports local handicraft in one go. A very economical and ecological solution.
(I'm also fairly certain that it's not a good idea to make a speaker out of glass, but that's besides the point... any materials science people care to chime in?)
And lest we forget that People People is Swedish: "The speaker is then assembled at home, IKEA style. This also means that the components that breaks first (the rubber ring and the speaker cone) can be easily replaced, keeping the product away from any landfill." (I imagine that they mean if, not when, a component goes kaputt...)
Last but certainly not least, the designers note that the Invisible Speaker, for the time being, remains a work-in-progress: "The speaker is still under development, and not available for purchase yet. If you are interested you can drop a mail to speaker[a]peoplepeople.se and we will keep you posted on the progress."
» Part 1: A Speaker Design That Actually Looks Like a Speaker
» Part 2: Speakers That Look Like Old Speakers (Because They Are)
» Part 3: A Speaker That's Been in Hiding
...and Brooklyn-based artist and designer Mikal Hameed's "Rebaroque" wall-mounted speakers fit the theme as well.