Bird Song with a Found Feather by Martin Smith/Laikingland

London Design Festival: this mechanical contraption by artist Martin Smith and his design company Laikingland will wake you up by chirping like a bird (+ movie).

Bird Song with a Found Feather is a mechanically operated sliding whistle that uses a bellow and levers to mimic birdsong.

Bird Song with a Found Feather by Martin Smith with Laikingland

"The noise is created by two cams rotating and pushing levers up and down," explained Smith, who is also the artistic director of Laikingland. "One lever pumps the bellows, forcing air into the whistle, and the second lever adjusts the slide in the whistle in order to change the pitch and length of the chirp."

Bird Song with a Found Feather by Martin Smith with Laikingland

The feather itself offers no clue to the bird imitated by the contraption. "The origins of the feather are unknown, as it was found and donated to the piece – although it is very blue," Smith told Dezeen.

Bird Song with a Found Feather by Martin Smith with Laikingland

A bespoke analogue timer has been built into the piece so that the chirping sound can be used as an alarm clock.

Bird Song with a Found Feather by Martin Smith with Laikingland

The piece was displayed at Mint in South Kensington during the London Design Festival – see all our stories from the festival here.

Bird Song with a Found Feather by Martin Smith with Laikingland

We've featured a few other machines by Laikingland previously, including a gong timer that's inaccurate on purpose and a cacophonous doorbell made in collaboration with Tord Boontje.

See all our stories about machines »
See all our stories about Laikingland »

Here's some more information from Laikingland:


The concept came from the notion of waking up to the wonderful sound of birdsong. Rather than a caged living bird, an elaborate mechanically operated sliding whistle has been devised that can be set and activated when required.

I wanted a piece that could be set, as with an alarm clock, and would allow you start the day gently. I am interested in producing mechanical bird sounds and seeing the cause and effect through a mechanism. For me the making is very important and I wanted to craft every part of the machine, to understand how the bellows are constructed and operate and to get the bird whistle sounding just right.

Materials: steel, brass, fabric, motor, custom electrics and a feather
Dimensions: H 1500mm (59”) W 300mm (12”) / D 300mm (12”)
Power: 12v motor
Edition: unique
Price: on request