While many of the latest speakers for smartphones rely on highly specialized tech like Bluetooth or Airplay connectivity, a group of Thai designers chose to strip it all down to one material—beech wood. The result is a simple, beautiful speaker that uses natural acoustics, not circuits. Bangkok-based Pana Objects, a studio started by seven friends, embraces wood—unpainted, left as close to its natural state as possible—as its medium of choice, and it's become their signature look. Whether it's a desk lamp with four legs or a modern interpretation of the sundial clock, the designs are as playful as they are timeless.
The speaker dock is named Thumm, after the Thai word which roughly translates to "nature cave." The design is inspired by sounds of nature resonating in a cave, but also the trumpet—the bell shape gives the naturally resonant frequencies within the brass instrument a boost. Pana Objects applied acoustic properties often used by craftsmen to create musical instruments to hard, solid wood. The result gives a considerable volume boost to the iPhone's otherwise weak native speaker.
Pana Objects is unusual in its size: "There are seven of us, and we met each other almost nine years ago as friends who graduated from industrial design at the same design college (KMUTT) in Thailand," Pattarapong Pornpanapong, design director of the Thumm project, tells CH. Before reuniting to start Pana Objects, they had worked in various branches of design—ID consulting, graphic, branding, furniture and even manufacturing. The diversity in their experience has proven to be a strength in developing their product and brand. "Being both designers and craftsmen, every product and creation comes from our own hands, hearts and brains. We don’t compromise quality and detail. Because, after all, it’s personal," he continues.
Indeed, Pana Object's production process is so close and personal that it takes place right behind their studio. They use a CNC milling machine on single blocks of solid European beech wood, and hand finish all of their products to add their delicate maker's touch. Prior to construction, each piece is hand selected at local market in Bangkok. "We love the unique pattern found in beech wood; the detailed grain looks like it's been sketched by a pencil, with a smooth texture and a touch of pale pink sparkle. This tiny detail fits properly with our small wooden pieces, including our little Thumm."
As we've seen with similar products like the Koostik and Houd Speaker, wood smartphone docks can't compete with the powered speaker docks currently on the market, though the elegance and tech-less-ness of the wood guarantees it'll never become outdated. For best results, use Thumm on a hard surface like a glass table top or concrete, as the hard material will amplify the acoustics. Thumm is available for $136 from Pana Objects online.
Photos by Nara Shin