This Wireless Speaker May Just Be A Prototype But It Is Mighty Nonetheless “I never thought my speaker would gain any popularity”, says Gražina Bočkutė, an industrial design student and graphic design intern at an advertising company who is hoping to make her concrete, wireless, speaker prototype, a reality. The striking speaker, or Concretus as she has named it, blends the natural and the manmade to create a rough yet honed sound experience. Controlled via wireless technology the piece of art, or equipment, however you chose to look at it, pays homage to both where we came from and where we are going: concrete is simple and unpretencious while wireless technology is the future. The choice of material was inspired by Gražina’s trip to the pier of Klaipeda and it’s giant tetrapods, the project initially came about as part of a second year project at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, where the designer is now in her final year. The base is made plastic and pulls out incase the interior mechanisms need to be changed, while the detailing is stainless steel, while almost gives the speaker an element of a pebble beach – not your standard beautiful white sands but, in the right light, catching glimpses of shiny treasure buried in the stone. Concretus is unapologetic, beautiful in it’s stark, block stance and minimalistic, a style which is integral to all Gražina’s work. It is a testament to works in progress everywhere and to the designer’s creative process, “this is the the best part of the process for me: experimenting” she told us when we caught up with her, “I love experimenting with new forms, new materials, finding unique synthesis between them, testing out their features”. This is what Gražina had to say: The Plus: How did CONCRETUS come about? Gražina Bočkutė: Well, Concretus is the result of my second-year second semester work in the Vilnius Academy of Arts. The main theme/topic for this semester was sound. It was a very broad/wide topic and our ideas were very various/diverse/different. After a month of research and various ideas I started to develop what I wanted to do and that was to experiment with materials, try something new. I always wanted to make something from ceramics, I started researching about this material, it’s synthesis with sound. Somehow over-time ceramics turned into concrete, as I always seen the beauty of this material, it was suitable for sound in a way and I had the possibilities and opportunity to make something out of it. I also saw, that there are not many speakers made from this material, so it was quite a good niche. Then the research for the form started, 3d visualizations, countless consultations with my amazing supervisor Povilas Juškaitis and Algimantas Kensminas, who gave me knowledge of the concrete itself (I would like to thank them in advance), countless consultations and ideas from other people, countless hours of hard work and finally the speaker was born. TP: Why the choice of name? GB: Well, I actually named my speaker before even finishing it. I had my vision and just started to think of a name that is both meaningfull and suitable for the speaker itself. The material is the main hook for this speaker, so I just had to include the word. Beton sounded a bit heavy, so I took the word concrete and added a latin-kind-of-fancy ending to it while giving it a lithuanian vibe, because KONKRETUS means particular/specific in lithuanian and it suited my speaker really well, I think. Naming my projects is actually one of my favourite parts of the whole process. TP: CONCRETUS is in its initial prototype phase, where do you see the future going? Or, where do you hope it to go? GB: Yes, it’s just a concept for now. Well, I do want to spread it to world-market and see it as a product everyone could buy, but first I need to develop it to that stage. For that I need a team of engineers, sound-specialists, physicists etc and I would gratefully accept anyone who could help me out, as I’m currently searching for them. I see my speaker in cool industrial lofts as an accessory to the rough interior. I am sure this is not everyone’s taste but I believe it will found its consumers group/niche who love it as much as I do. TP: Talk us through the creative process for creating the speaker? GB: The creative process is very complex and individual for each project. For this, as I mentioned before, I thought about the topic sound in a broad way. Only later I developed my idea to create something using unique material and through research concrete came to my mind. When I was sure of the main material, I started thinking about the form. It had to be minimal, as the material is very unique itself and I did not want to emphasize anything else but it. The research for the form was mainly done using 3d programms and then making a lot of mock-ups by hand from cardboard. The next phase was to experiment with concrete itself. I mixed it with metal dust, I poured it in plastic, I experimented with the form and interesting results came by. (The photos show the experiments). When I was done with my main mold I inserted electronics to it, added stainless steel details to show the contrast between materials and Voilà! TP: What makes this speaker different from other speakers? GB: The material choice. There are not many speakers made from this material and it is a challenge to do so. I think the stainless steel details adds something to it as a whole also. It brings back the look of contrast. Also, it is controlled with bluetooth wireless technology so the old, ancient material kind of gets it’s modern hipster vibe with it. TP: The speaker is intended to be part of the interior in which it sits, in your opinion, what impact does music have on interior atmosphere/design? GB: Oh, music has a huge impact. It sets the mood, it controls your emotions, how you feel. It adds so much. If I’m sitting in a dreamy bright pastel-coloured apartment the least thing I would want to hear is rough goth or metal music. I imagine my speaker would play electronics, post-rock music, maybe some ambient sounds. TP: Your inspiration for the choice of material is the tetrapods at the pier of Klaipeda – what significance does this place have to you? GB: Yes. The pier of Klaipėda is breathtaking. Klaipėda is my hometown, I was born in here, I grew up here. The pier is a place to relax, take a walk, breath in breath out, feel the sea and it’s calmness. In the back of my mind I always thought that those tetrapods will have some kind of an impact in my life, will somehow inspire me. TP: What’s next for you, other than CONCRETUS? GB: Well, I hope to finish my studies in Vilnius academy of Arts, then I would like to see myself continue working in product design field, although I love graphic design also. I am still finding my nieche, my sphere, my style and I hope it will develop through time. Currently everything about design interests me and I can hardly say now what kind of design I will make in the future. I just hope everything goes well.