Good sound. Affordable. Not Ugly. Pick two. That’s generally the best-case scenario, design-wise, when you’re shopping for a speaker. Like TVs, they’re a household staple that’s also a bit of an eyesore, but unlike TVs, you can’t throw a pretty landscape (or seasonally, a fireplace) on screen to distract from the big black box. It’s a design flaw that seems like it should be a pretty easy fix: couldn’t you just make the surface of the speaker a little more beautiful?
Of course you can. Or rather, Ikea can. And they did. Today (July 15, 2021) they launched the Symfonisk (it’s not Ikea if it’s not 66% consonants) picture frame with wifi speaker in collaboration with Sonos. The frame and speaker comes in two designs (a black or white, geometric, constellation-like pattern) and has both a magnetic hook and rubber feet, so you can hang it lean it against a wall.
While Ikea’s not the first to do this (a quick Google search yielded Soundwall, a company that also makes gorgeous art speakers—for over $1000) they’re doing it at a much lower price point. The Symfonisk is $249, which is a bit more than Sonos’s cheapest speaker (the Roam is $229). The speaker/art collab also isn’t portable—aka, it’s not wireless—so you if you’re mounting it on a wall, keep that in mind.
If monochromatics aren’t your thing, they also have two separate panels that can be swapped out—and my bet is there’s more variations to come. So far the options are a record player design and a colourful, splotchy pattern (my personal favourite). Each additional panel is $20. I’m hoping they release a soothing landscape panel—maybe an ocean view complimented by ocean sounds? There’s some immersive art for you.