PA1 (an acronym for Proper Audio) is a minimal mountable aluminium bodied bluetooth speaker, made by Australian studio Proper. Designers tried to create a combination of laconic beauty and powerful sound. The result is being currently founded through Kickstarter. Here is how they describe it: PA1 connects wirelessly to virtually every smart phone, tablet and computer, regardless of operating system. We’ve selected a premium Bluetooth module, with close consideration to antenna placement ensuring clear, consistent pairing and audio streaming. PA1 also remembers up to 5 devices, so you’ll only ever need to pair the first time you turn it on. The On, Off, and Pairing commands are operated intuitively via a single button. The device is versatile, it can be moved from one room to another, mounted on a wall or placed on a shelf or desk. The interchangeable fabric covers are available in black and white.
P.A.C.O. is a minimalist bluetooth speaker created by Italian studio Digital Habit(s). This is a stand-alone piece, it can be placed on a desk, shelf or any other surface. Here is how designers describe it: P.A.C.O. is a digital loudspeaker manufactured in concrete and Fir Harmonic Board. The body, heavy and amorphous, enhances the deepness of bass and the harmonic wood gives warmth to the treble. Aside from the bluetooth controls, the speaker can be operated via hand gestures. For example you can place and hold your hand over one side of the sensor to change volume. And to stop the music, you can just cover the sensor with your hand. Simple and intuitive.
San Francisco based audio accessories brand Native Union, strive to bring communication back to how it should be: simple and enjoyable. With this in mind, they have designed the award winning Switch – a compact, lightweight, and portable Bluetooth speaker. It pairs to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with wireless ease, letting you listen to all your audio with unmatched sound and quality. The name Switch derives from its ability to play audio effectively in both a vertical and horizontal position. Aside from its sound quality, it’s the beautifully minimalist box design that has me particularly impressed. The speaker’s rubber exterior encases all sides of the box except the metal speaker screen. The exterior also features the Native Union logo, which unfortunately is its only aesthetic flaw. I would have preferred a more subtle (same colour) engraving. However, an intuitive volume wheel inspired by hi-fi audio systems is convenient to use, regardless of the speaker’s position. Switch comes in a variety of colours and is available on both the Native Union and the Apple stores. Images courtesy of Apple.
Sound1 bluetooth speakers were designed to please the eye as well as the ear. Created by studio cloudandco and produced by South Korean company 11+, the minimalist device has been thought out to the last detail. The bottom edge of each speaker is cut at an angle, allowing it to tilt and project sound at an ideal trajectory. Thanks to magnets embedded in the speakers, they can be joined into a single tube and stored compactly in the included pouch. When not in use, the cables can be neatly kept within an empty space at the bottom of each piece. I love the fluidity of this design. Each element is a functional continuation of the other. I imagine these speakers being a nice compliment for iOS devices.
The NW3 speakers by Germany based interdisciplinary collective Neue Werkstatt are designed, manufactured and distributed in close collaboration with local craftsmen and businesses.The collective tries to explore alternative forms of production and graphic shapes. Our products are simple and reticent. It is not our intention to make just beautiful forms. We are concentrated on function, comprehensibility, ecology and durability. The NW3 speakers form a natural looking and sounding HiFi system that can be used in almost every area. The drivers are from the Danish company Pearless and the housing, made of local wood, solvent-free stained and protected with natural wax, by a small carpenters workshop in Germany. The front guards are made of powder-coated steel.
New York based multidisciplinary designer, Joe Doucet is the creator behind the simple, but certainly attractive little wireless Prism Speaker – the result of his first collaboration with the French producer of design, Lexon. As one product of Lexon’s Prism collection, which includes a clock and clock radio, the Prism Speaker measures only 8 x 8 x 8cm. It also features integrated touch controls, an in-built rechargeable battery lasting up to four hours, and an LED battery level indicator. For optimal acoustics, the speaker is reminiscent of a cube sinking into the surface upon which it rests. Prism is available in black, aluminium, and white.
Iconico portable speaker, created by Héctor Serrano for French brand Lexon, is a thing of visual and functional simplicity. Intended to be used with mobile phones, it connects to an audio source via a 3.5 millimetre stereo audio cable. And if you want to silence Iconico, simply turn it over and muffle the sound against the table. No buttons to push, I like that. Here is what designer says about the piece: It’s a playful, intuitive and simple object to listen to your music everywhere in high sound quality. Iconico is made of ABS plastic and comes in dark grey and white.
Teenage Engineering, a Stockholm based studio known for their simplistic industrial design, have recently unveiled the OD-11 Cloud Speaker – a wireless speaker that allows music to be streamed from cloud services. Combine this with integrated WiFi and an optional magnetic wireless Bluetooth volume remote, and you have yourself a great cloud music experience. Inside the (26 x 26 x 26 cm) minimalist cubic form, you will find a 100w class D amplifier with filters and a DSP in an attempt to deliver the best possible sound. Certainly a high-end product at $800, but it does appear to be an impressive piece of engineering and design.
Hannes Harms, a German industrial designer and graduate from the Royal College of Art, recently completed and presented his latest design of the stylish Flat Boombox – a minimal personal audio solution consisting of a perforated sheet of acid-etched stainless steel. Harms explains: For this speaker, I decided to focus on the idea of the flatness of future electrical components. I wanted to reduce manufacturing processes as well as material and volume. This speaker is made out of a flat sheet of 0.5mm stainless steel, holding a flat speaker component in place. I love the fact the flat sheet can be easily bent in scored lines as a home assembly. I’d be very interested to discover the sound quality for this speaker. Even so, there’s little denying this is a very creative piece of design.
As we get closer to closing 2011, I thought it would be worthwile to re-visit somebody who has been featured on Minimalissimo multiple times for his visionary approach in design that never goes of out style: German industrial designer Dieter Rams. Already in the early 1980s and as a chief designer for Braun, Dieter Rams was aware and concerned by the state of the material world around him. Surrounded by what he called “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noise” he created ten principles of good design that I found appropriate to feature before we enter 2012, another year full of creativity and design. 1. Good design is innovative 2. Good design makes a product useful 3. Good design is aesthetic 4. Good design helps us to understand a product 5. Good design is unobtrusive 6. Good design is honest 7. Good design is durable 8. Good design is consequent to the last detail 9. Good design is concerned with the environment 10. Good design is as little design as possible With Mr. Rams’ words in mind, I hope you find it inspiring to either design or appreciate the design that is Good Design.
The latest product by Audyssey, a Los Angeles based audio technology company, is the Lower East Side Audio Dock Air. This speaker with frank appearance streams music wireless from your personal devices such as computer, iPhone and iPad. Audyssey solved small speaker distortion and other typical acoustic problems and you can enjoy a rich, clear and balanced sound. I love the ribbon ‘wrapped’ around the speaker and houses the interface. Unfortunately you can not charge the dock and thus always have to rely on a power connection.
Industrial designers John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen from Australia and Vitor Santa Maria from Brazil have collaborated to design the HiddenRadio, which is currently being funded through Kickstarter. Their approach to their work is simple product design that is both innovative and intuitive. The minimal HiddenRadio & Bluetooth Speaker design connects and captivates the user through its intuitive functionality. When asleep it hides all its functions. To turn it on you simply twist and lift the cap. The further you lift the cap the more internal volume is created and will amplify to over 80dB of crystal clear sound. Although it offers Bluetooth technology, if you don’t have a Bluetooth device, a 3.5mm audio input plug is available. The battery life is also an impressive feature, offering over 30 hours of power. A beautiful, unobtrusive and simple device, which I think is well worth backing.