Dezeen Magazine

Designers blend craft and electronics to explore new possibilities for home appliances

London Design Festival 2016: "you can have surround sound with your chandelier, vase and centrepiece" in the world imagined by the 28 designers contributing to the Electro Craft exhibition (+ slideshow).

Among the contributors is Turkish designer Bilge Nur Saltik with her Loud Objects – a range of hand-crafted objects.

Although they don't look like electronic products, her marble candle holder, serving plate and vase can pair with any device via Bluetooth to play music.

LDF: Electro Craft exhibition
Loud Objects by Bilge Nur Saltik Bilge Nur Saltik presents Loud Objects – a range of objects that can pair with any device via Bluetooth to play music

"We have all these electronic pieces at home, but they don't necessarily go with the decoration of your home – they're slightly alienated," Saltik told Dezeen.

"I integrated electronics with home accessories to make objects that synchronise, like Sonos, so you can have surround sound with your chandelier, vase and centrepiece."

Saltik's Loud Objects contain wooden elements – sometimes concealed, sometimes prominent – that resonate to amplify sound. Questions of audio quality have, for now, come second to exploring "a different way of thinking about technology".

"Speakers can look a bit weird in a space, but this product at home feels familiar," said the designer, who previously combined tableware with electronics in a project that encouraged people to share food and drinks.

LDF: Electro Craft exhibition
The hand-crafted objects don't look like typical electronic products

Her work is exhibited at Electro Craft alongside speakers, lighting and other devices that incorporate influences from craft.

The exhibition, a part of London Design Festival, was curated by designer Tord Boontje, whose own work in this area includes the paper Midsummer Light, aimed at making the home "softer and more humane".

"Working in a field that sometimes seems overwhelmed by bland corporate products with very little aesthetic or artistic value, it seems a relevant moment to me to highlight some of the wonderful work that is also happening in the area of electronics," said Boontje.

"This exhibition tries to give a flavour of some of this original thinking."

Other designers in the exhibition have used craft to explore aspects of interaction design that could be applied to mass-manufacture.

Jeongwon Ji's Tactile Sound is a small, cylindrical vibration speaker whose whole form is also the volume control.

LDF: Electro Craft exhibition
Jeongwon Ji's Tactile Sound is a small, cylindrical vibration speaker whose whole form is also the volume control

The top of the aluminium speaker is marked by 14 different graded textures, from highly polished to ultra-matt, arranged like slices in a pie. The textures are designed to intuitively guide a user seeking to turn the volume of the speaker up or down.

"I really wanted to get rid of any digital symbols – so no LEDs, no numbers, no indicator," the designer said. "Just by feeling the texture and identifying the starting point, you can read it and get a sense of where to go."

Other works in Electro Craft include AKQA Seeker by Map, the London-based industrial design consultancy founded in 2012 by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby with design director Jon Marshall.

The handheld device simplifies the digital map experience by providing only a compass-like pointer towards the selected destination. This means the user experiences a "fuzzy" navigation route, knowing the direction in which they need to go but picking their own path to it.

Icelandic designer Thorunn Arnadottir created a set of toys, titled Shapes of Sound, that reuse the electronic mechanisms from mass-manufactured plastic toys.

LDF: Electro Craft exhibition
Icelandic designer Thorunn Arnadottir created a set of toys that reuse the electronic mechanisms from mass-manufactured plastic toys

The three toys – one made of pinewood, another in aluminium and the last in lava stone – look like abstract shapes, but take on familiar form when they produce noise.

The aluminium cylinder produces a car noise when rolled, while the pinewood cones play a Christmas song once stacked.

Although there are reasons mass-produced electronics tend to look and feel the same, last year's launch of the Serif TV suggests there is room in the market for alternatives.

Created by the Bouroullec brothers for Samsung, it has a sculptural, I-shaped profile unlike any other set on the market.

LDF: Electro Craft exhibition
Paul Cocksedge presents his updated Vamp, a small Bluetooth cube that connects mobile devices to speakers

The brothers said at the time that they wanted to create a product with more character than other television sets, where size and slimness are usually seen as the most desirable qualities.

"The motive was to make an object that sits properly in the world we live in," said Erwan Bouroullec.

Electro Craft also includes audio designs from Yuri Suzuki, Paul Cocksedge, Roli, Studio Tord Boontje and Yamaha.

Craft-based approaches to lighting are explored by Bethan Laura Wood, Future Facility, Lina Patsiou, Marjan Van Aubel, Front and Loligo, Studio Drift, Studio Furthermore and Yoav Reches & Nan Zhao.

LDF: Electro Craft exhibition
The AKQA Seeker by Barber and Osgerby's Map is a handheld device that simplifies the digital map experience

Other electronic devices come from Ariane Prin, HEKA, Poetic Lab, Raw Edges, Rive Roshan, El Ultimo Grito, Silo Studio, The Tail Company and Wonseok Jung.

Electro Craft is on for the duration of the London Design Festival, which finishes on 25 September 2016. Other exhibitions on during the festival include Viaduct's display of minimalist furniture from throughout the decades, and the Shit Museum's exploration of dung-related design.