a wireless speaker
created from an abandoned object
During 2008 many ceramic companies in the area of Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, run out of business due to the European crisis. Secla, one of the most emblematic company in the area, had the same fate.
It all started back in the 19th century when the area became famous for artistic ceramics, especially due to the work of Bordallo Pinheiro, who helped to create a network of ceramic producers that kept growing until 2008, when many of them were forced to close leaving behind many iconic products that were already part of the Portuguese design culture.
The industrial facility of the company is nowadays abandoned in the industrial area of Caldas da Rainha, and while some of the local handcrafters already stole some molds, the factory is still full of products that have lost identity. I have personally gone there to collect some of the molds and objects that caught my attention.
One of these objects particularly intrigued me, a ceramic biscuits container that looks like a bowl. Despite having seen the object around in some homes and grocery stores, it caught my attention because of its interaction with the user: the container can stand in two different positions making it easier, when inclined, to reach the content, creating a feeling of surprise.
errors and solutions
Trying to give back an identity to an object that had lost its own, I decided to design a product from this abandoned object. My focus started on the existing characteristics, especially the form, the small details that suggest how to use the object, and the unglazed cooked ceramic.
After some research and experiments that helped me understand the acoustic properties of ceramics, I decided to create a speaker from this object. There were many design challenges to solve one of which was that the object did not allow any creation of holes due to its fragility, so it could not support any outputs of USB ports, wires, and buttons, making it clear that the speaker had to be totally wireless. That property was easy to reach thanks to today's technology, but the question that remained was how you switch it on/off? The solution came from the object itself, using the same interaction given by its old function, inclining it.
The first prototype was built from recovered electronic components that helped me understand if the product was feasible, this allowed me to analyze the sound increment, the operation of the Bluetooth, and the functioning of the tilt switch. The second prototype, on the other hand, was developed with more adequate materials and electronic components, and it made evident a lot of design errors. First of all, it helped to evaluate, along with a sound consultor, the design fix needed to reach a proper sound: air distribution, efficiency, etc. Second, the adjustments necessary to create a simple structure that could be mounted without glues directly on the ceramic container.
Lastbiscuit was designed all based on a unique structure supported by a wood cap that also works as a propagator of sound. The electric components and the battery are assembled to a metal structure created just by an aluminum twisted bar. This makes the product easy to disassemble in case of malfunction or recycling.