Sonos makes objectively lovely speakers. But even the most compact, affordable, and unobtrusive model, the $199 Play:1, looks like what it is—a piece of consumer electronics. It comes in black or white with a metallic-gray grill, like just about every other tech gadget. But soon and for a limited time it will come in pristine white and murdered-out black.
It’s a subtle—and subtly ingenious—move by the wireless-speaker maker. Because by coating the speakers entirely in a white or black matte finish (grill included), Sonos has vastly changed the look and feel of its Play:1 into a neutral, sculptural object that can fit into almost any interior space—a smart marketing strategy for Sonos, whose mission is to install a speaker in every room, whether it be furnished in midcentury modern or American colonial.
But it’s also a lesson in the power of design to change the attitude of an product, even if, as in this case, it’s an exercise in re-skinning. Dipped in all-white or -black, the Play:1’s grill look more like a textile than metal, and the soft-touch coating feels like a matte glaze on porcelain. “It’s a little less consumer electronic,” says Tad Toulis, Sonos’ VP of product development. “It begins to feel a little more like a vase or a piece of ceramica.” In keeping with the design’s lower profile, even the logo has been toned down to be, according to Toulis, “subtle enough that it can be seen but not so subtle that’s invisible.”
As with any Play:1, the limited editions have two custom drivers with dedicated amplifiers, but you’ll pay a slight premium for the new design—$250. Only 5,000 will be available on Sonos.com, starting Tuesday, July 21, at 10 a.m. CET for European buyers and 10 a.m. PT for U.S. and Canadian customers.
This article was published by Wired on 15.07.2015