Blog 5

One element that can transform a space (without taking up very much space) is music. I remember when I was little I went to a friend’s house and there was music playing outside. I wanted to change the song; however, I couldn’t fine the radio anywhere. I soon learned that the sound was coming out of a speaker disguised as a rock. Even at my young age I realized that I was looking at a really creative design. Shown below is an image of this type of speaker.

Shown above is the Klipsch AWR-650-SM, a speaker that looks like a rock.
Reference: Klipsch AWR-650-SM, Crutchfield Corporation. Retrieved from  650G/Klipsch-AWR-650-SM Granite.html?tp=188&awkw=75619820185&awat= pla&awnw=g&awcr=47439098065 &awdv=c&awug=9002012

The design works because typically large speakers can be an eyesore, especially in a natural environment like a backyard. The rock-like speaker does, however, come with a few costs. For one, the user doesn’t know where to go to change the song or turn on the speakers. The switches could be inside or outside the house on a panel, or the speaker could use a remote. Furthermore, people might not know that the rock is actually a speaker and thus not be careful around it. Since the speaker is built to be outside it is very durable, but kids still might jump on it or be very rough around it if they do not know what it is.

The above image show the the Heartland LED Lantern Speaker by Acoustic Research.
Reference: Heartland Speaker, VOXX Accessories Corp. Retrieved from

Another example of a disguised speaker is the Heartland LED Lantern Speaker by Acoustic Research. An image of this speaker is shown to the left. It is similar to the rock-like speaker in that it is visually attractive but difficult to use. The lantern speaker is slightly better than the rock speaker because people are unlikely to jump or be rough with a lantern even if they don’t know it is actually a speaker. I still would not suggest this product to buyers because there are no clear signifiers telling the potential  user what it is.


A better design solution for someone wanting a speaker that blends into their environment would be to have a small, but powerful speaker that is visually attractive. A good example of this is the Tivoli Model One Radio, which includes natural wood elements while still clearly being a speaker. Farm Design Inc., a company that worked with Tivoli to create this speaker, states “behind the Model One’s simple appearance, is a multitude of technology facilitating higher sound reproduction and better reception over anything else near it in size or cost” (2017). Because of its clearly labeled knobs, the Model One creates a good user experience. People who purchase this radio can benefit from music without the stress of figuring out a rock-shaped speaker system.

An image of a well-designed speaker, the the Tivoli Model One Radio.
Reference: Farm Design Inc. (2017). Tivoli Model One Radio. Retrieved from


Farm Design Inc. (2017). Tivoli Model One Radio. Product Development Projects. Retrieved from

9 thoughts on “Blog 5

  1. My aunt has rock-speakers around her pool. In terms of aesthetics, speakers that blend into the natural setting make perfect sense. Nobody wants to be looking at large sound systems as they are relaxing by the pool sipping on a corona. However, I do agree that camouflage speakers come with a cost. I remember one of my brothers used the speaker as a platform for jumping into the pool. My aunt had to yell at him because the water dripping off of his body could have potentially damaged the system. You said “the user doesn’t know where to go to change or turn on speakers.” This could be a positive thing for the people who own the speakers, who don’t want their kids friends playing around with their speakers!

    • I agree that from an aesthetic standpoint the rock speakers are by far the best option to camouflage the speakers. They create continuity with the design of a yards landscape, but I think an essential point that wasn’t mentioned is the ability to place these speakers all around the yard. By placing these type of speakers all around the yard the owner would be able to create a surround sound type of effect without disrupting the architecture. At my old house, we had backyard speakers that were clearly speakers but they blended into the awning nicely. The only issue was that the speakers were basically useless if you weren’t by the awning. For this reason, I think that the rock speakers are by far the best backyard option. I know there is the issue of where do you change the music, but honestly it’s an advantage because in my house I control the music and don’t want others to interfere. Further, I think that I should be able to expect my rock speaker to be practically indestructible because they were built to be outdoors. If I have to worry about things like getting them wet, then this is a design flaw and the speakers should of been labeled for indoor use.

  2. I think you bring up really interesting points. I agree that the aesthetic of a speaker that blends into the environment is beneficial in many ways, and helps to maintain a natural atmosphere. However, I do remember many times at friends’ pools where time that could have been spent swimming was spent trying to figure out a somewhat impractical speaker system. I agree that a small, easy-to-use, visually pleasing speaker could be a good solution, but what if the user wants to maintain the camouflage aesthetic? Maybe there is a way to morph the two designs!

  3. I immediately found this funny because I also have these rock-like speaker system in my backyard. When people came over, they would often wonder where the music was coming from. Even when ours were first installed, I thought it was a very cool and creative design because it can look so realistic. Design aesthetic has become increasingly important to consumers, which is a reason that this design could be popular. However, you bring up an important point about lack of caution around it since people do not know that it is a speaker. At my house, they were not installed very close to the pool, which is a factor that made them work well in this setting.

  4. I’ve enjoyed both speaker types, but it definitely depends on the context. I associate the hidden rock speakers with an outdoor shopping area I grew up near, where it seemed like mysterious Frank Sinatra songs were playing from the bushes. There, the speakers seemed awesome. I definitely would not want them inside my living room or anywhere that I would be consistently changing their settings. I also agree that speakers and sound can really change a space. One’s experience in a room or an outdoor setting can be shifted depending on the sounds around them.

  5. I think you bring up some very compelling points. I like how you brought up a better alternative to the rock speaker. I think something that people tend to do is pick certain pieces with only the interior design aspect in mind. Instead, what needs to be adopted is the balance between interior design and design through the human factors lens.

  6. I had a similar experience as a child at my cousin’s pool not knowing where the music was coming from because it came from rock speakers. It is ineffective that a guest could not change the music if they wanted, however, it could be nice for the owner to be the only one who could change it so they could play the music they want.

  7. I think you bring up some important points about speaker design and I wonder if a happy medium could be met. Perhaps if there were an investment made into making more durable speakers – no issue with pool water or anything – they would be more usable. Furthermore, I think the issue of not knowing how to change the music could be fixed if there was a designated music station. We have speakers mounted in my backyard, but there is a box on the porch that is clearly a volume adjustment. This allows for both the ability to customize as well as the sense of camouflage.

  8. I’m not exactly sure how the rock-looking speaker works, but I know that most speakers these days use bluetooth technology so that they can connect to someone’s phone, which is a common and easy-to-understand technology. If the rock-looking speaker was bluetooth, the music could therefore be controlled through a phone, so it wouldn’t be confusing how to use it. It would also work well aesthetically and blend in with the natural scene.

Leave a Reply