Dezeen Magazine

MDLR-37 modular synthesiser by Love Hulten

Love Hultén's MDLR-37 synthesiser takes the form of a fold-out wooden toolkit

Swedish audiovisual artist Love Hultén has combined nostalgic and new references to create his MDLR-37 synthesiser, which folds up similarly to an old-fashioned toolbox.

The latest in Hultén's long line of one-off machines, which include arcade game cabinets and portable game consoles, the MDLR-37 is a synthesiser in four semi-modular sections enclosed in a painted wood case.

Modular synthesiser in retro wooden case
The MDLR-37 features panels of American walnut wood in a painted ash case

It was made for a client who wanted a portable set-up combining his favourite synth gear. Hultén took inspiration from vintage fold-out toolboxes to make it easy to carry, with the audio equipment becoming the "tools".

"I fuse traditional craftsmanship with modern tech to create unique objects in an unexpected merge of form and function," Hultén told Dezeen.

T-Rex Replicator tape echo and Doepfer A-199 spring reverb effects on a custom synthesiser
Its design was informed by an old-fashioned toolbox

"My designs are usually based on something I've come across recently, an interesting object, could be anything really – anything that sparks my imagination," he added.

"I scour my mind for a function, a purpose that could connect with my visual idea in an interesting or unexpected way," he continued. "When I've found a good mix between usability and aesthetics, it's a go."

Synthesiser folded up into a toolbox-like case
The MDLR-37 folds up into a portable case

The MDLR-37 is made of panels of American walnut wood studded with bright yellow dials, all encased in a body of grey-painted ash.

There is a 37-note keybed on the bottom, with a Korg Minilogue synthesiser serving as the mainboard in the section above.

In the section above that there is a Meris ENZO synthesiser for modulation, plus built-in speakers and a round oscilloscope-like spectrum visualiser that displays a waveform as music is played.

Fold-out modular synthesiser stacked vertically
Slim side plates secure the synthesiser when it is expanded

In the top panel, there are two additional unusual effects — tape echo via a T-Rex Replicator and spring reverb via a Doepfer A-199.

Hultén describes the MDLR-37's combination of gear as creating "rich and dirty soundscapes embedded in analog ambience and atmosphere".

"The Korg Minilogue is a great standalone device, but combined with effects like the Replicator tape echo you'll get something really interesting," he said.

The components can all be connected to each other and to additional external equipment. Slim side plates secure the vertical set-up and hold it in place while it is in use.

The components can all be connected to one another

Hultén says he aims to mash up different references in his work to trigger an emotional response from people.

"I play a lot with values and standards, suggesting a different perspective on how to relate and interact with objects," he told Dezeen. "I give objects new functions, new values."

"The smashed-up references in my work have a triggering effect on the viewer, I guess. I want my audience to be enlightened – not just feel nostalgic," he continued.

"Nostalgia is involved to a certain extent, yes, but it's not looking backwards. It's taking steps in different directions simultaneously by using fragments from both the past and today, creating unique and balanced objects."

Custom one-off modular synthesiser with keyboard by Love Hulten
The mainboard used is a Korg Minilogue synthesiser

Hultén has previously designed the R-Kaid-R, a mini solid-wood console for playing classic arcade games, which was made in a limited run of 50.

His other past work includes a shrine-like 1980s Nintendo console topped with a glass dome and a a vocal synthesiser featuring rows of 25 plastic teeth.

Stockholm studio Teenage Engineering has also created a portable synthesiser system, which it dubbed the "poor man's modular."

More images

Fold-out modular synthesiser stacked vertically
Slim side plates secure the synthesiser when it is expanded
Hand connected a cable on a custom modular synthesiser