With SYMFONISK WiFi speakers, Sonos and IKEA challenged themselves to find new ways of bringing sound into the home. Find out how the two brands worked together to design speakers that double as adaptable pieces of IKEA furniture.

 

At first thought, bringing the sound of a full orchestra into a dining room—without a speaker—doesn’t even seem like a challenge. It seems impossible.

Or so you might think. Meet SYMFONISK, a new collection of wireless speakers from Sonos and IKEA that double as a lamp or a multipurpose shelf—but with the premium sound you expect from Sonos. To create SYMFONISK WiFi speakers, the two companies worked together to introduce sound into the home in a more subtle way, integrating speakers into functional, beautiful pieces of furniture.

It may feel a little like magic. And in a way, it is. Except this magic wasn’t the kind from storybooks, but the kind that comes from teamwork, negotiation, prototyping, and repeated testing. And some knitting.

The first hurdle was figuring out how to best work together. Sonos brought to the table what it does best—creating great sound. IKEA, in turn, brought the expertise of home furnishing, as well as the spontaneity of trial-and-error design. Hilmar Lehnert, Audio Technology Product Manager at Sonos, describes both teams’ creation strategy as “an iterative process,” with IKEA designing and building prototypes and Sonos measuring, tuning, and listening to those prototypes then providing a list of things requiring adjustment.

This process, Lehnert says, was not too different from what Sonos does internally, just made more complex by the number of collaborators involved. On one hand, there was IKEA, spearheading the products’ outward design, and on the other hand, there was Sonos, overseeing their sound and performance. Rounding out the team was the manufacturer responsible for the engineering work needed to bring Sonos and IKEA designs into being.

“We had to have this intricate three-way dance to be clear about who was responsible for what,” Lehnert says.

However familiar it was with creating great sound, Sonos still had a lot to learn about how to apply those methods to the less familiar field of home furnishing.

One example of this dance can be found in the brands’ working communication. Sonos discovered that it was difficult for the audio team to speak about sound with the industrial designers at IKEA, whose expertise applied to an entirely different field. In order to ensure the creation of the best product, Sonos’s industrial designers had to translate what their audio team needed in a way that made sense to their counterparts at IKEA.

“[Lehnert] had to explain how acoustic works, how to think about it. Then we had our industrial design team say, ‘Here’s what you, industrial designers at IKEA, need to know from someone with their same language and perspective,” Sara Morris, Senior Product Manager at Sonos, says of the experience. She continues, “When [Lehnert]’s talking about bass response, you need to be thinking about these feature sets. And when he’s talking about acoustic transparency, this is what it means for your material choices as you make your design decisions.”

However familiar it was with creating great sound, Sonos still had a lot to learn about how to apply those methods to the less familiar field of home furnishing. Lehnert describes his experience at a knitting manufacturer in Austria with both bemusement and awe.

“I’ve learnt more about knitting than I was ever planning to, but it was fascinating,” he says. “What types of threads you use, thread patterns, thread tensions, breadth, cleft. That all needs to be understood—what they can do and what they can’t do, what affects the sound.”

The team wound up going through hundreds of different fabrics, none of which would have been considered for a traditional speaker, to find the one that worked best as a cover for the speaker and design element of the table lamp with WiFi speaker.

When people think of making a house a home, they usually default to thoughts of the aesthetics. But sound can serve just as important of a role in defining the atmosphere of your home.

The result of this collaboration is a range of speakers that don’t read as speakers at all but as adaptable pieces of furniture for your home. On your nightstand, the table lamp can simultaneously provide light for bedtime reading and an ambient soundtrack for falling asleep. Likewise, there are seven different ways to incorporate the WiFi bookshelf speaker into your home—whether you want to hide it in your bookshelf or add additional surface area to a room by mounting it as a shelf on the wall. And, like all Sonos products, SYMFONISK WiFi speakers are designed to seamlessly integrate with the rest of your Sonos system.

When people think of making a house a home, they usually default to thoughts of the aesthetics. But sound can serve just as important of a role in defining the atmosphere of your home. With SYMFONISK WiFi speakers, you can enhance both, simultaneously.

“You can have your art. You can have your carpets. And you can put your own spin on the way your house sounds,” says Morris. “People can come over and you can show them, audibly, ‘This is who I am.’”

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