Furniture

Thanks to Layer, the Beosound Balance, Looks as Good as it Sounds

I’ve always loved Bang and Olufsen products. I know many people will argue that they aren’t the best sounding audio gear for the price you pay, but you have to admit they make beautiful stuff. Bang and Olufsen’s design aesthetic, choice of materials, attention to detail, and yes, the audio quality in my opinion. Sorry folks my ears don’t hear well enough to play the granular specs game.

Design agency Layer has designed the new “Beosound Balance” for Bang & Olufsen and the look is so nice. The distinctive, sculptural silhouette expresses the speaker’s performance, with a large base unit supporting a textile-covered cylindrical speaker. Controlled with a touch- and voice-activated interface (using Google Assitant) on top. This is sort of Bang and Olufsen’s entry into the smart speaker market.

The result is a room-filling, three dimensional sound from a speaker that takes its inspiration from the design language of domestic objects rather than high-tech electronics products. This is the first project by Layer for Bang & Olufsen and was 18 months in research and development.

The form of Beosound Balance is driven by the speaker’s audio performance, with a simple, cylindrical base unit on which a more expressive form sits. Together, these two elemental forms combine to create a sculptural object – like a plinth supporting a sculpture or vase. It’s this look that sets it apart from the cylinder/block format of most smart speakers in the market today.

The timber base unit contains a large, omnidirectional bass speaker driver, which is positioned with a vertical orientation and topped with a metal mesh screen featuring perforations in a Fibonacci sequence. The bass is reflected off the rounded metal base beneath the top form, maximizing its acoustic potential and providing a room-filling, low-end rich sound. 

The softly sculpted upper unit contains the precise mid-range drivers and tweeters, which complete the warm, well- balanced audio performance. These drivers – which provide directional audio – are positioned under a seamlessly knitted textile cover. 

To reinforce Bang and Olufsen’s positioning of “Beosound Balance” as an object to be looked at as much as listened to, the speaker is crafted from a rich palette of materials that are more readily associated with homewares and soft furnishings than high-tech or audiophile products.

The base unit is made from FSC-approved solid timber, blocked and turned as in furniture production. This material choice not only oozes craftsmanship but also offers quality and superior sound resonance. The upper unit is wrapped textile, with a nod to interior upholstery; while the metal reflector and the interface panel are made from pressed aluminum and inspired by finely crafted tableware. The textile wrapped power cable is long enough that the speaker can be easily positioned around a room as needed, meaning the speaker is not constrained based on power needs. (I love the fact that they used a textile-covered cord. It always seems to be the one thing that gets overlooked.)

Beosound Balance won’t come cheap. It rolls in at $2250.00 dollars. Way more expensive than other smart speakers on the market. It is Bang and Olufsen though, and I’m thinking if you are considering B&O products you can probably afford this price point. You’ll be able to pick this up starting in March of 2020 on their website, third-party retailers and in Bang & Olufsen stores.

Furniture Lust to Kick Off 2020 – The Woolsey Smart Desk

Four years ago I was lucky enough to be chosen for the IKEA Home Tour when they were here in Kansas City. My video got me a home office makeover that turned out really nice. All of the furniture was supplied by IKEA and the Home Tour Squad spent 3 days redesigning my office. Part of the office makeover package was a sit/stand desk that I have used ever since. BEKANT.

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the BEKANT Desk that I’ve been using since it was installed. I’ve had to replace the drive solenoid on it twice now, and the controls to raise and lower the desk can be a bit temperamental at times. The slightest variation in pressure and the desk comes to a stop. The work surface is ample, and the motor raises and lowers the desk in a fluid fashion which is nice. The problem is that the desk feels a bit on the cheap side, and when you spend 8 to 10 hours a day sitting or standing at your desk, you begin to think about better quality, or how you can hack your desk to make it feel like a higher quality piece of furniture. The other thing that pops into your head is “Should I just replace it with a better quality desk?”

Yawn

The thing I find true about most sit/stand desks either look like they were designed by an engineer with no value on aesthetics or they have a very traditional look that doesn’t really fit with my personal style. What I want is a really nice piece of furniture with solid cable management, features, with a modern flair. So, I began my quest and while cruising the internet today I came across the “Woolsey Smart Desk” by Sean Woolsey.

The Sean Woolsey Smart Desk is available in two different materials – walnut or white oak allowing you to choose a material that works best with your current office or workspace. The Smart Desk is filled with all sorts of features I love. Cable slots so you can charge devices in the drawers out of sight. The motor control is hidden in the right drawer helping to keep your workspace tidy. The control unit also allows you to program 4 specific stop heights for different users. (very handy for me. I’m 6 foot 4 and my wife is 5 foot 4″) The motors that drive the desk give off very little noise (BEKANT is loud as hell) There is a built-in surge protector. It has a built-in QI Charger for wireless charging. Oh, and did I mention it’s absolutely gorgeous?

Click through to Vimeo to see the entire series of videos on the Smart Desk.

Just look at it. The shape is subtly rounded. Drawer hardware is removed so that the front of the desk becomes an uninterrupted shape. The monitor riser is unobtrusive. Cables are hidden away out of sight. It’s simply stunning.

Clearly, nothing has been left out when designing the Sean Woolsey Smart Desk with real attention to detail in the materials used and the little design touches which set it apart. Sean Woolsey wanted to include everything for the busy professional to stay organized with a luxurious yet functional design that offers everything you will need to keep yourself motivated and creative day in, day out.

I just need to figure out how to afford this. At $3000.00 it’s a hefty investment for sure. If I plan on dropping that kind of coin on a desk it’s going to need to become a family heirloom and something I plan on using for the next 20 years.

Christian Troels Mutatio Lamp

Look at the Mutatio Lamp, created by Danish designer Christian Troels. What an elegant expression of form, going from a minimalist black cylinder, to an angled abstract shape.  In its closed state the lamp is a nondescript cylinder. Just a black tube that doesn’t reveal its true purpose. As it opens up, it not only makes apparent its functionality, and taking on a familiar yet new shape for a table lamp. When open it feels so familiar, yet visually fresh. Christian Troels’ Mutatio Lamp goes from simple to magical and playful in one motion. It looks like it is constructed aluminum, or steel, and painted black. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of information on his website, and nothing about where or if it can actually be purchased. Which is to bad, because I think these would be a hot item.

It’s Not That I Don’t Like You. Sometimes I Just Don’t Feel Like Talking To You.

Last month I started to work on the backyard landscaping now that almost all of the updates to the house have been made. The patio is getting rebuilt and the back fence run is getting replaced later this year. I didn’t want to do a full privacy fence across the back so I decided to go with a 4-foot high wood fencing system from Home Depot. Now I like my neighbors, but there are times I want to sit on my patio not have to look at them or have them look at me. The solution is this series of tall planters designed by Fabien Joly. (sorry folks the link takes you to a Flash based website.) IRF is a collection of tall planters that have rectangular shapes and thin and high profile which makes them ideal for patios or terraces where you want a bit of privacy. Each planter is constructed of fiber cement and they come in a variety of colors ranging from bright green and blue to charcoal gray. With the tallest planter coming in at just under 4 feet tall these seem like a perfect solution to have a little bit of privacy while making the patio look better.

Shadows in the Windows

With summer officially just a couple of months away, and rebuilding the patio on my project list, I’ve decided that I should probably get new patio furniture to go on it. I was thinking about getting the typical teak and metal stuff, but then I saw this set of chairs designed by Italian designer Andrea Ponti. They probably aren’t very comfortable, but damn they are sexy looking. There is something about them that reminds of that mid-1980’s design aesthetic that was a reinterpretation of 1930’s Art Deco known as Art Deco Revival. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Something about the forms, and maybe the color pallet. Anyway, I like them. I don’t care if you can’t lounge on them, or if the really aren’t that comfortable to sit on. They look great, almost like sculptural elements, or accents.

Ponti’s “Shadows in the Windows” is a project that portrays Hong Kong’s urban landscape through two symbolic elements: a window and a seat, in eight variations. The project is a metaphor of the architecture of urban density and represents the relationship among the individual, the product, and the urban landscape.

The window is the architectural element that best represents the concept of urban density. The seat by the window is a symbolic element that contributes to the representation of Hong Kong’s urban landscape. Eight seats, eight shadows in eight windows. The eight seats share the same design concept: a square window frame, the contour of a chair, clean lines, steel and ABS. Yet each seat is different and embodies a unique version of the design concept.

Shadows in the Windows will be introduced at 2017 Milan Design Week, April 4-9th, 2017, as part of the Superdesign Show at Superstudio Più.

IKEA Furniture Is A Snap

IKEA has always been a company that has innovated. It shows in everything from the use of materials, to the adoption of solar power for all of their stores.  They are constantly pushing themselves forward, growing, adapting, changing as they bring new products to market. If you are familiar with IKEA furniture, you probably know that you will be using an Allen wrench, and a screwdriver to get the job done, but now thanks to the designers on the team, you might not.

KEA has recently introduced a series of snap together furniture using a new dowel and wedge system. The new joint is called a wedge dowel, and it’s specifically designed for wooden products. Products like the Lisbo table, for instance, have a small ribbed wedge at the top of each leg, which is then inserted into a pre-machined hole in the tabletop. the joint requires no glue and can be taken apart and reassembled multiple times without damaging the fastener.

IKEA recognized the fact that it included a lot of small fittings with each of their products. The number of parts is often a turnoff for customers, and a waste of resources. By incorporating the wedge dowel, assembly time decreases and IKEA saves money by removing all the metal fasteners.

The special design was initially introduced in 2014 as a proof of concept in the Regissör storage products and Stockholm cabinets. It was tested on these products for 3 years and now IKEA intends to incorporate the system into other pieces.

A 1955 Classic Reissued by Carl Hansen & Son.

Having spent the last 3 and a half hours working standing up, looking at a well-designed desk that you sit at is a refreshing break. Don’t get me wrong, I choose to work standing up, my desk can raise and lower, and I really do try to work standing for at least 4 to 5 hours a day. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a piece of quality design, and a desk you sit at.

Starting this October you will be able to pick up one of Poul Kjærholm’s tables originally designed for the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in 1955. Poul Kjærholm was a master at blending steel and wood together to create a minimalist yet functional form. His design aesthetic  is expressed perfectly in these two tables. Both are characterized by clear forms and light grace, the tables made a significant contribution to the designer’s reputation as a pioneer of Danish functionalism.

Desk1

Produced by Carl Hansen & Son, the tables will be available with tops made of Oregon pine or oak veneer, and with oiled, varnished or black-lacquered surfaces. The steel frame comes lacquered in black or grey. Each table can be fitted with a drawer of either oiled, varnished or black lacquered oak. The Professor Desk (PK52) is 28 inches high, by 72.4 inches long and 33.4 inches deep; the Student Desk (PK52A) is 28 inches high, 55.7 inches long and 33.4 inches deep. Both tables will be available for purchase in October.

Desk 2

desk 3

desk 4

desk 5