Dezeen Magazine

Benjamin Hubert designs "highly human" smart devices that invite touch

Designer Benjamin Hubert has collaborated with Deutsche Telekom Design to create a conceptual collection of connected home devices that take cues from residential interiors, which were presented during Milan design week.

Called Connectivity Concept, the project by Layer founder Hubert was on display as an installation at Salone del Mobile during this year's Milan design week.

Mirrored router
The Connectivity Concept collection includes a mirrored router

The collection, currently only a concept, comprises six recognisable everyday smart devices for the home that have been reimagined in materials that "challenge the status quo", according to the designer.

One of these products is a router that has been designed with an angled, mirrored surface that intends to blend into its surroundings by reflecting them.

Benjamin Hubert mesh repeater
A mesh repeater was designed with a delicate timber body

"Connectivity devices are an increasingly important element of the home and how we live – yet, they often don’t truly reflect our highly valued home environments," Hubert told Dezeen.

A mesh repeater – a type of WiFi booster – was designed to be made with a curved, oak timber body. Users would access information displayed on an LED matrix panel via a single tap.

Benjamin Hubert set-top box and curved soundbar and webcam
The combined set-top box and curved soundbar and separate webcam take cues from handcrafted ceramics

Hubert explained that the materials that would be used to create the devices, such as wood, "drive a highly crafted finish, tactile hand feeling and sensitivity to the home interior".

For example, another conceptual device is a set-top box and curved soundbar that would be made from soft ceramic including recycled plastic, which has a design that takes cues from handcrafted ceramics.

A separate webcam designed in the same smooth materials could be nestled into the soundbar's curved structure with face tracking capabilities and a sliding cover to ensure privacy.

"The [devices] are highly human and invite touch and interaction via their tactility," said Hubert.

"They also somewhat disappear into the home interior and become part of our landscape of eclectic objects due to the simplicity of their form and singular use of materiality."

Connectivity Collection
An additional set-top box and a self-balancing remote control are included in the collection

An additional set-top box with a smooth, curved structure that glows when in use and a sleek, self-balancing remote control are the final two smart devices in the conceptual collection.

"The heating [would be] well managed via the back casements and venting so there [would be] no issues with introducing natural materials," explained Hubert, discussing how the collection would avoid overheating if it were realised.

"This is the beginning of a conceptual conversation on what these types of products could be, so watch this space."

Smart device
The conceptual products were designed to invite touch

Layer is an industrial and digital design agency based in London. Other technology projects spearheaded by the company include a headset that uses an LED matrix to turn nature videos into biomorphic patterns to help users meditate and a bookshelf speaker designed for Bang & Olufsen that was created to look more like a domestic object than a piece of technology.

The renderings are courtesy of Layer.

Milan design week took place from 6 to 12 June 2022 in Milan, Italy. See our Milan design week 2022 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks that took place throughout the week.