IKEA x Sonos - Sustainability in Smart integration
words Svetlomir Tsvetanov
special gratitute to SONOS
August 2019 saw a new type of home furniture coming to the market. Inspired by the ideas of de-cluttering and multipurpose use, the new SYMFONISK Wi-Fi speakers range, created in collaboration between IKEA and SONOS, aims to set the perfect mood by cleverly merging the functionality of more than one home appliances and keeping the great design at the forefront. The SYMFONISK collection consists of two exclusive items available in black and white – the SYMFONISK table lamp, priced at £150 and the SYMFONISK bookshelf at the price of £99.
The versatility of the products is not only sought after by the public for its great home integration but is also recognised by this year’s prestigious RED DOT Awards for product design. The ‘award holding’ bookshelf Wi-Fi speaker can be placed almost in every possible way at home. Whether it’s hidden away or placed in display (horizontally or vertically), this little mood setter can hold up to 3 kg of weight and doesn’t compromise on sound. It is simply proof that this innovation is a step in the right direction for a design that promotes smart integration while allowing clutter-free space. Stark Magazine’s own Svetlomir Tsvetanov had the chance to exchange a few words with the SONOS team and raise the veil on this product from the future.
In this age of technological advancement, we have witnessed growth in gadgets that cross-combine different services to ease our day-to-day life and to streamline our habits by minimising the usage of multiple devices. This raised the question on what brought the merge of Wi-Fi speakers with a table lamp and book shelf instead of anything else. In response, IKEA and SONOS have stated they have a shared passion for making it easy for people to listen better with one another anywhere in their homes. According to a SONOS representative, one area that IKEA has shown great curiosity is sound in the home and living with sound, and that is what brought the initial idea of collaboration. SONOS, on the other side, has always aimed at combining high-quality sound with beautiful design, and this partnership combines the two companies’ shared passion, values and expertise to bring great sound to more homes across the globe. The combination of a SONOS speaker and IKEA-designed product offers a unique value for customers because music and light are both crucial in setting the mood in a home. The SYMFONISK lamp delivers both in a single product – perfect for small spaces or homes that do not wish for their technology to be a visible part of their home design. The SYMFONISK bookshelf was designed to be extremely versatile – and thanks to Trueplay tuning (on both speakers), it will sound great anywhere you put it. Further to this, a SONOS representative explained that the initial ambition of the SYMFONISK bookshelf speaker was to have it fit on the night-stand in the bedroom, and that followed after several design proposals were created. However, during one product development session, a member in the team asked “Why don’t we make the speaker itself into a shelf instead of trying to make it fit on an already existing night-stand?” and that is how the multifunctional bookshelf speaker came about. One question that changed everything.. and at £99 - you will be surprised to hear what’s packed in this little fellow.
Whilst the design is different, and there are differences in the detail of the sound, the SYMFONISK speakers are full members of the SONOS family, controlled using the SONOS app, as well as directly from partner apps like Spotify and Deezer, and AirPlay 2. The SYMFONISK table lamp speaker was designed to reflect the sound profile of the SONOS Play:1 or SONOS One. The SYMFONISK bookshelf speaker was a completely new form designed to be extremely versatile, for example, you can have it standing vertical or horizontal and is designed to fit perfectly into IKEA furniture. Both pieces are created with one thing in mind - versatility and suitability for different environments.
Interesting enough, since SONOS is a system, you can control SYMFONISK with voice if you have a SONOS speaker with voice capabilities built-in, or if you have another device that supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. SYMFONISK was designed by IKEA to fit its range of home and smart products, which makes it adaptable to your smart home (if you have one). This puts a serious finger on the market of speakers as it demonstrates what only seems to be the peak of the iceberg. With additional software updates and the release of, possibly, Second and Third generations, the chances for this to evolve seem promising!
On a global level both IKEA and SONOS have made some big Environmental promises. While IKEA aims to use only recycled polyester in textile products by 2020 and is committed to end the dependency on virgin fossil materials and use only renewable or recycled materials by 2030. SONOS has pledged to positively impact society and meaningfully decrease their environmental footprint. To accomplish their goals, they have made a framework that offers five pillars that define to company’s social and environmental impact: product design, supply chain, facilities, social impact, and employee initiatives that promote diversity and volunteering. Each of these pillars are tied to trackable goals and metrics that allow transparency and adequate measure of their progress in time. The best and most effective way to do that is by creating products that last. The longer a product is in use, the less resources are required to create its replacement. While the sound and tuning were optimised by SONOS and IKEA took full responsibility for the design and form factor, both companies have worked on the internal mechanics, with a unique approach for each product. In their aim to join the fight against pollution, SONOS have also looked at how they can reduce the power their products consume when they’re not being used, achieving this through a clever system of standby functionality that balances the speedy ‘time to music’ customers expect with minimal energy consumption when products are inactive.
At present, it is not likely to see other products released as part of the SYMFONISK family but do not despair - this does not not mean it will not change. The newly formed partnership represents an innovative way to bring the SONOS experience to new customers on a global scale. IKEA has the unparalleled reach and offers a completely new distribution footprint to SONOS’ existing network. The fusion brings the SONOS sound experience to new unique form factors, at new price points, and to new countries and in new bespoke products. With this new market landscape, SONOS see an opportunity to significantly expand their audience by bringing their creations into millions of new homes. Although no product can last forever, SONOS have argued that they will continue to innovate so their speakers stay in use, longer. When it’s finally timeto retire a product, they will provide an environmentally - responsible solution for recycling.
All SYMFONISK products are compatible with SONOS’ products and can be used via the SONOS app. Available both on the App Store and Google Play. Check your local IKEA store for the availability of the products.