People People have designed a speaker with a transparent cabinet that is both aesthetically compelling and inconspicuous. To create good acoustics the cabinet that houses the speakers needs to be fairly large but by making the box out of glass they have created a speaker that doesn’t visually dominate the living room.
I think it is important to understand the different parts that make up the product
One of the principles governing the design of the speaker was to make it an environmentally friendly and sustainable product. These days, the latest gadget in vogue one year finds itself obsolete the next. Our throwaway culture has led to mountains of non-biodegradable material clogging up the planet. If products were designed to last, then of course, there would be less waste.
One solution People People found was to make the speaker modular so that if one part breaks or becomes obsolete it can be changed without having to discard the whole product. Brickstad says, “I think it is important to understand the different parts that make up the product. The actual speaker membrane could have a lifespan of 10 to 30 years but then the electronics, for example the Wi-Fi device, may only have 2 to 5 years. We needed to deal with that problem. Different parts of the product would age differently so we wanted to make a design that allows you to update the hardware whenever the different parts become outdated.”
Apple, under the guidance of Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive, has been a great source of inspiration for Brickstad and People People, mainly due to their attention to detail in the design process. However Brickstad believes there is a difference between the two when it comes to sustainability.
He says, “I’ve been thinking recently about Apple and the way we relate to them. They focus on product quality a lot and because of this they are an inspiration but I think the one thing where we differ from them in our design philosophy is that they build products that aren’t meant to last that long. In a way it seems unnecessary to build such good quality products if they are only built to last a few years.”
They also plan to ship the speaker in parts and then have them assembled in the country they will be sold in. Brickstad says, “Any other speaker will be preassembled and then shipped with 60% or 90% air in the packaging. Being a modular kit, we can ship it with minimum air and also source the glass sheets from local glass-makers around the world.”
In a way it seems unnecessary to build such good quality products if they are only built to last a few years
The People People speaker is not on the market yet but since they showed it at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the US this year they have had very positive feedback. To raise money to get the speaker into production they have been using the new crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, where funds are raised by members of the public who want to invest in the product. Brickstad says of Kickstarter, “It is becoming a realistic alternative to venture capitalism and investment for small players, who can now compete with bigger corporations.”
Crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter could really change the design landscape. If smaller, independent companies find a way to make a living by this form of funding it could lead to a far more diverse range of designs in the future.