Spierings’ Echo combines bespoke speakers with removable tubes made of different materials that can be used to alter the properties of the music played by the system.
Described as a “soundscape that makes acoustics visible and tactile”, the system features tubes in different lengths made from three different materials – ash wood, fabric-covered foam and brass.
The tubes can be attached to a 3D-printed speaker module. The speakers are connected to a computer running the music program Ableton, via an amplifier and an audio-splitter, which directs them to play audio in response to a tube being placed on top of each one.
The speakers each have their own sound, which is then altered by the tube placed on top. Activating multiple speakers allows the user to create layers of sound.
Spierings worked with the DJ Nicky Liebregts to create the audio for the prototype of the system.
“Echo invites you to interact with material and melody – the performer is a composer, musician and designer at the same time,” Spierings told Dezeen.
“Every material has its own characteristic (like density), which lets the sound resonate through the tube in a different way,” she explained. “Wood creates a deeper tone, brass makes it purer and foam has a muffling effect. Of course you can use many more materials to play with.”
Created as her graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven, Echo is the culmination of the designer’s research into using sound to define space, which initially began by looking at how people pass through airports.
Using tactile interfaces could help users understand some of the principles of sound manipulation, she said.
“When I started to make tactile tests with sound and material, I came across something far more interesting and I focused on this,” she said. “For me, sound used to be quite a vague subject, but by approaching this topic in a tactile way, I got to understand and enjoy [it].”
Spierings’ project was shown during Dutch Design Week 2018 as part of the Design Academy Eindhoven exhibition, which also included a 3D printer that uses recycled paper pulp, distorted office furniture and a vegan leather alternative made from lino.
Speaker design has become an increasing focus for designers, as bluetooth and wifi have liberated the position of the devices within the home.
Speaker manufacturer Sonos recently teamed up with design brand Hay to create speakers that “deserve to be treated like furniture”, while Bang & Olufsen has recruited some of the world’s best product designers including Cecilie Manz and Michael Anastassiades to create its recent products.
Last year, furniture behemoth IKEA produced its first speakers and teamed up with tech creatives Teenage Engineering to create a portable audio and lighting system for on-the-spot parties.
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