Sonos enlisted Max Burton, the founder of Matter, early in their product ideation to help explore and uncover new possibilities for their latest home theater product, PLAYBASE. The product team at Sonos had discovered key insights – while most people aspire to mount their TVs to a wall, only 30% actually do. This insight highlighted a product opportunity with those missing out on a superior audio - and ultimately viewing - experience.
Informed by these discoveries, we worked closely with Sonos on design concepts that would 1) offer quick, easy set-up, 2) fit in any home, 3) work with most televisions sets and 4) sit on all types of furniture. Working within these constraints, our aim was to deliver a first-class audio experience through a minimalist, unobtrusive design.
Following this preliminary research and prototyping, we brought early mock-ups into a variety of homes to test our theories on size, shape and overall perception of our concepts with people. The final form - an elongated oblong with generous rounded corners calls to mind the communal experiences of the home, but also allows for broad projection of sound in larger, shared spaces.
Once we had defined the product form, our next major design challenge was simplicity. Rather than call attention to the product, we wanted the technology to disappear within the room. We therefore removed all evidence of construction, such as split lines and material breaks, to achieve a low profile design that practically disappears. The PLAYBASE therefore looks as though it were hewn from a solid piece of material, aside from the necessary interactive sound and control elements and one rounded, gently recessed button linking to a network and other Sonos speakers.
Working closely with Sonos’ team of world-renowned experts in design, acoustic engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, radio-frequency engineering, firmware and software, we challenged the limitations of manufacturing to produce a truly unique product.
After initial development, multiple rounds of prototypes and thousands of hours of design and engineering, the result is a beautiful, simple form housing raw power and unparalleled sound.