These days, technology is looking less like itself—instead, it’s beginning to resemble everyday furniture.
At Milan’s Salone Del Mobile this month, designers articulated a new approach to the aesthetics of technology. One example was the Beosound Shape wireless speaker system, revealed by Danish consumer electronics company Bang & Olufsen ahead of an August release. The modular sound system is made up of hexagonal shapes with varying colors, and looks more like wall-mounted artwork than a traditional sound system.
“We don’t want to live in a place where technology overpowers the home,” Marie Kristine Schmidt, vice president of brand and product design at Bang & Olufsen, told the Innovation Group. “When you talk about ‘invisible tech,’ it’s not about the tech needing to be invisible, but that it needs to feel like it belongs to the home.”
The honeycomb speaker not only allows for easy customization, but also serves a functional purpose, according to Bang & Olufsen. The company says its design enhances the acoustics of the room, even when the speakers are switched off. “We’re taming technology so that it can fit into the home,” said Schmidt.
“The concept of personalization, the concept of identity, the concept of being creatively engaged is super important,” continued Schmidt. “Your product is a story to tell and it is more powerful if you have been involved in the creation. I think that [involving consumers creatively] is what we are going to see more of in the future.”
Also at Milan Design Week, The Frame TV, created for Samsung by Swiss designer Yves Behar, aims to redefine how the visually obtrusive television could blend into the home. In a press statement, Behar explained that his design approach for this project was “to think about the television not as a consumer electronics product, but as part of our home and our daily life.”
In 2015, Samsung started reimagining the television with French designers the Bouroullec Brothers for Serif TV in a bid to migrate the television from the world of tech to the world of furniture and design. The Frame TV represents the next step in this evolution, and could even set an example for other consumer electronic brands to follow.
The Innovation Group mentioned the rise of invisible tech in The Future 100.