Our collaboration with Danish furnishings brand HAY gives the Sonos One smart speaker the kind of enhancement you won’t find in a software update: Five new colours hand-selected from HAY’s 2018 palette.

 

“Colour is like food or smell,” says Tad Toulis, Vice President of Design at Sonos. “It’s a great vehicle for invoking memory, and it’s so different to different people.” So why, you may wonder, doesn’t Sonos typically use colour when designing speakers?

“I would argue black and white are colours,” Toulis laughs. “We decided to use colour as a way of making these monolithic statements. When something is all white or all black, it stops seeming like an assembled object and is instead like a ceramic piece you may have in your home. We want to make really simple objects that blend in with your life and don’t claim too much attention.”

To go beyond black and white and explore the relationship between sound and colour in home design, Sonos teamed up with the revered Danish home furnishings brand HAY. Using HAY’s distinctive 2018 colour palette, we began to explore how we might infuse one of our speakers with colours that could fit beautifully—yet subtly–into people’s homes. But whilst adding colour to a speaker may sound simple, the process has its own complexities.

“Matching all the metal and plastic parts of a speaker requires a lot of experimenting and adjustments,” Toulis says. “You have different materials, different paint application processes, even different paint methodologies and chemistries. To make those parts all look the same requires a tremendous amount of work.”

All of that hard work proved fruitful in April 2018 when HAY and Sonos first announced the HAY Sonos One Limited Edition Collection at the Salone del Mobile design and furniture fair in Milan, Italy. It was there that HAY co-founders Mette and Rolf Hay joined Sonos in offering the world its first look at the Sonos One in five colours selected by Mette Hay herself.

“For me, colour is one of the most important tools in the design process,” explains Mette Hay. “I believe each object has its own set of colours. I couldn’t use the same colours for a new chair as I could for a piece of porcelain, but they can still live together and look nice. When I started working on colours for Sonos, I knew exactly what we needed.”

The resulting palette of colours—Vibrant Red, Forest Green, Pale Yellow, Light Grey, and Soft Pink—was hand-picked with specific spaces and particular needs in mind.

“Colour is like food or smell. It’s a great vehicle for invoking memory.”  – Tad Toulis, Sonos VP of Design

“We wanted to create colours that were for everyone,” explains Hay. “I select colours based on situations and how I see a product being used.”

“Each colour needs to harmonise with a particular space,” she adds. “The yellow colour was very inspired by kitchens and bathrooms where things can often be light colours, [made of materials like] stainless steel and porcelain.”

“For the green, we wanted something like plants in the window frame, where you could also place the speaker and it could blend in,” she says. “With the Light Grey, it was important to find the right neutral tone, one that would work in both workspaces and homes. Pink is intended for the more fashionable person. All things pink create a special desire right now.”

Finally, there was Vibrant Red, the last colour selected for the collection. “It is such an important colour for furniture, and we wanted an iconic red that would also fit well with our New Order shelf by Stefan Diez.”

Once the colours were finalized, the hard work of implementing them began. “We had to produce a plastic that was specific to these painted colours,” Toulis explains. “We couldn’t just paint on a white or black speaker.”

Drawing on Sonos and HAY’s shared heritage of sophisticated manufacturing, the team created the tools necessary to match the colour of the materials. “We had to injection-mould coloured resin to achieve the colour. There was no other way to get to red, for example, from white or black,” Toulis says. “This is the intricacy and subtlety of colour. It’s a combination of how the light hits it, the undercoat, and the technique.”

Once the different materials were colour-matched, the team could assess how the speakers looked in different environments—not to mention alongside HAY’s products. The resulting collection reveals the merits of Mette Hay’s intuitive approach to design and how colour can bring objects in the home to life.

“We wanted to create colours that were for everyone.” – Mette Hay

“Working with colour helps draw the user into looking at the object,” says Toulis. The challenge with the Sonos One is that it is designed to fade into the background, as evidenced by the smooth finish, understated form, flush buttons, and discrete LED light.

“It should just disappear,” Toulis says of the design of Sonos products. “But when you do stop to look at it, you should appreciate the detail and, in this case, the colours that you don’t normally see in electronics. We want you to notice things like the particular shade we picked or how well-matched the parts are.”

“These speakers deserve to be treated like furniture,” says Hay. And like furniture, these functional accessories play a key role in defining the look and feel of a space—in this case, with the help of sound, an element that, because of its invisible nature, is often overlooked.

“Sound is definitely a sign of life in the home,” says Hay. This colourful collection brings that truth to the forefront with a whole new accent.

The HAY Sonos One Limited Edition will be available in all five colours on 5 November.
You can preorder yours now.

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