Maison & Objet Autumn 2013: Sound Innovations
Smart tech designs that improve users' experiences in all ways
As Odile Decq told us in our recent interview, the most important and interesting changes in home decor are related to technological advances, specifically as we become more comfortable with bringing technology into our living spaces. Our tour of tech innovations at Maison & Objet proves Decq right, and demonstrates the ways that audio brands are evolving, with products that improve our experiences logistically, aurally and aesthetically.
In addition to displaying the time, MyKronoz's new smartwatches can connect to any Bluetooth device. They can then be used to listen to music or record voice memos. They can also act as a phone; ringing and vibrating to alert the wearer to incoming calls, while the screen displays the identity or number of the caller. A built-in microphone and speaker allows for hand-free calling, and talk time lasts up to four hours.
Conceived and developed in Switzerland, MyKronoz launched two different designs in April 2013, a bracelet for women (called ZeBracelet) and a watch (ZeWatch). At the end of September, the new collection will offer an even more advanced version of the watch, equipped with a removable touchscreen that can be clipped to a belt or any workout gear. The touchscreen enables users to compose text messages, and send and receive multi-media messages. This all-in-one version—called ZeNano—can also be used as a radio. Prices range from 69€ to 129€.
The Monocle by Native Union is not made for the eyes, but for the ears. This sound accessory—now available for 49€ exclusively at Colette Paris until the end of September 2013—looks like a single headphone piece. It is, in fact, a mobile speakerphone that's equipped with a nylon reinforced cable to connect with a music player and can be held to the ear, worn, or hung on a wall. The monocles can be "daisy-chained" with up to 10 others, amplifying the sound. In addition to the various colors of the basic model, the special version comes in leather, black metal or copper.
Native Union's Switch speaker (launched in May 2013) does double duty as a speakerphone. When being used to listen to music, calls can be taken by simply pressing a button. Headphones can be plugged in, but it's also equipped with two professional quality microphones, making conference calls a breeze. With Bluetooth connectivity, a 14-hour battery life, a USB plug and weighing in at less than 500 grams, it can be carried anywhere. It comes in various soft-touch colors (except for white, which is glossy) and a limited edition gold and leather.
Founded in 1938, the oldest French audio brand Elipson, is always one to watch. Elipson came to Maison & Objet with prototypes of its design-focused 2014 collection. The Planet Carrara is a fashion collaboration with designers Tal Lancman and Maurizio Galante, and an interesting addition to the classic Elipson's Planet line of spherical speakers. The "marble loudspeaker" creates the illusion of being made of real stone with its textile wrapping, though it is actually made with resin.
The partnership between Elipson and UK-based household furniture chain Habitat illustrates the new design and marketing intentions of the brand. Part of the co-branded collection, the Lenny mobile loudspeaker is certain to be a success. The speaker allows for Bluetooth connectivity with any device, can be used indoors and outdoors, has an eight-hour battery life, and is humorously designed to appear as a head wearing headphones. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the brand is re-issuing its legendary model, the BS50 which was designed in 1953 for the first Sound and Light show at France's Château de Chambord. This piece was (and remains) successful because of its design, but also because of its famous cover, which was designed to reflect the sound and make the listening experience even better.
MyKronoz images courtesy of Kronoz, Monocle image courtesy of Native Union, Planet Carrara images courtesy of Maurizio Galante, all others by Isabelle Doal