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.
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.
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.
Farm Design Inc. (2017). Tivoli Model One Radio. Product Development Projects. Retrieved from http://www.farmpd.com/product-development-projectst/henry-kloss