Last weekend I gave a talk on my Top Ten Design Hacks, which will be familiar to many of you already, but one of the most important ones – actually I say that, they’re all important, but one of the most overlooked shall we say – is the importance of paying attention to the details.
It’s about thinking of all the small things that make such a difference to the overall look because it shows you have thought about it all. It’s a bit like saving pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. Or having clean shoes which will distract from cheap trousers. That sort of thing. People notice door handles and light switches because they touch them. They might not see the scuffed paint if they are distracted by the lovely thing at eye level or the gorgeous tactility of the door handle.
So one of the things I always recommend is changing those light switches and sockets from the traditional white plastic to something more tactile ( personally I love a dolly toggle) and a more interesting colour. It doesn’t have to be brushed chrome but brass or bronze or even clear perspex if you have pretty wallpaper. I also advocate changing the white plastic flex on lamps for a colour that tones with the decoration of the room. Or contrasts – it doesn’t matter which.
And that is where we come to these speakers, which are from Panasonic. Technology designers have, at last, begun to catch on to the fact that we know the sound will be good. We take that for granted. But it’s no longer enough to have good sound. Now the product itself has to look good. We want function and form. It’s all in the detail.
The same thing has already begun happening with televisions as designers have realised that the technology is there. They’re just tweaking the details now. For a while tvs just got bigger and blacker and flatter. And the bigger they got the more we tried to hide them by putting them in cupboards and painting the walls dark, or pretending they were pictures in frames on gallery walls.
But over the last couple of years, there have been some really interesting designs in television; reclaiming it as a piece of furniture and one that you don’t have to apologise for. And the same is now happening with the speakers. Yes you can have black ones if you are an architect in a minimal loft. Or if you have painted all your rooms dark like Abigail Ahern.
But what about trying something new? What about choosing a colour that doesn’t disappear but that makes a statement? That goes with the decor and turns that object into a detail that you have acknowledged and thought about rather than pretending it wasn’t there or assuming that as we all have to have them we should just ignore them completely.
So Panasonic sent me this speaker to photograph in The Mad House (it’s not a gift and they will be collecting it soon – assuming I decide to open the door and let them in that is) and you can see how this contrasting burgundy colour works in every room in my house.
If you have built-in shelves – as on photographing this I realised I have lots of – then it’s easy enough to drill a hole to feed the wire through and plug in the cable where it suits. All my shelves have sockets down at the bottom although on the shelves in the loft I put them in the middle for precisely this reason.
This model – the Panasonic SC-HC 1020 comes in four colours – black and silver and cobalt blue as well – and costs £229. And for those of you who still have CDs rather than streaming, which it does too, obviously, the mirror panel on the front slides across so you can put them in there.
You can connect multiple devices and it has room-filling HI-Fi which means you don’t have to put it near the sofa for example, but can position it wherever suits you best in terms of look (or nearby plugs). Or you can fix it to the wall if that suits you better. It has some clever technology which means it doesn’t mind being close to a wall – apparently that’s a thing. Although, in my research for this feature, I discovered that books are brilliant for absorbing any reverberation which is why mine is on the shelf in the library. I have yet to discover if shoes have the same effect.