Find out how the aesthetic contrast of material connects sight, touch and history in our Beoplay M3 collaboration with cutting edge textile designers Kvadrat.

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Craft Matters: Material

B&O PLAY x Kvadrat

 

From the cool perfection of aluminium to the welcoming warmth of wool, the materials we use connect sight and touch, creating distinct aesthetic contrasts. Read how these two material ideas come together in the two different covers of our new Beoplay M3 speaker, and our collaboration with cutting-edge design textile company, Kvadrat.

 
 

Beoplay M3

Designed by award-winning Danish designer Cecile Manz, our Beoplay M3 speaker was conceived to be adaptable to any home environment, especially by choosing the right materials for its front panel – either in B&O PLAY’s signature aluminium, or with a woollen weave by Danish design textile company, Kvadrat. “Beoplay M3 is all about character; one that can easily adapt to any interior style.” says Manz. “We have worked hard to get the very best of the premium materials used and the result is a sleek, hyper-simple speaker with a precise shape that blends in perfectly with your interior”.

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“Aluminium has had an instrumental effect, not just on how our products perform, but also on how they are designed.”
— Ib Kongstad, Bang & Olufsen's anodising specialist
 

The importance of aluminium

Bang & Olufsen has a long history with aluminium, and combining it aesthetically with other materials is one of the pillars of our 90-plus years of success. Back in 1955, Bang & Olufsen technicians began to look for new ways of treating the metal, eventually settling on the complex process of anodising to give the products their unique final look. In the 1960s Danish design legend Jacob Jensen started to contrast aluminium with wood in products – an approach that would make Bang & Olufsen products famous across the world, and influence many others as well. “Aluminium has had an instrumental effect, not just on how our products perform,” Bang & Olufsen's anodising specialist Ib Kongstad told Sound Matters “but also on how they are designed.”

A textile lineage

The same idea applies for the wool now being used for the selection of Beoplay M3 covers. B&O PLAY's Design and Concept Manager, Jakob Kristoffersen explains what led us to work with Kvadrat: “When designing products, we work with the best fit-for-purpose materials that suits our ideals, both in terms of material properties as well as peer brands that share our values. Kvadrat is a renowned company, with roots in Scandinavian design traditions – a brand that we share a lot of values with. We both strive for perfection in the products we make, hence we're a natural match.”

 

The art of balance

Our brief to Kvadrat was to create a textile that would draw on their decades of expertise, and fit with the interior of any private home. The chosen textile was modified by Kvadrat in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen engineers for the acoustic requirements of audio technology. “You have to allow for the movement of air, and this is where it's really important to have a close collaboration with Bang & Olufsen because they are the acoustic experts,” explains Charlotte Bastholm Skjold, Head of Design Management at Kvadrat; “we know that with a certain kind of weave you can attain more airflow.”

Those technical considerations work in counterpoint with aesthetic decisions. Our juxtaposition of wool and anodised aluminium works together harmoniously due to the intense subtlety of finish of each material – and the M3 is testament to both B&O PLAY and Kvadrat's long-standing obsession with developing processes that allow for a product where nothing has been compromised.

 
“A product that puts sound in the context of the home must master balance.”
— Jakob Kristoffersen, Design & Concept Manager, B&O PLAY

B&O PLAY's Craft Matters


 

From Struer to Huddersfield and back again

Just as the finish achieved by Ib and his colleagues back in Factory 5 in the rural Danish environs of Struer is the result of a long, complex creative process – unique expertise gained over many years by Bang & Olufsen's specialists – it’s a shared value across the North Sea in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. That's where Kvadrat’s partner mill, Wooltex resides. It's an area where weaving and spinning wools and cotton was at the heart of the 19th century Industrial Revolution, an evolution that changed the entire world.

Into the weave

Kristoffersen explains, “Many of our products are used and live in the home – they're designed to fit in to that context. They should complement the objects our customers have curated their homes with, while standing out at the same time. So we need partners who understand our vision of how the home is populated... Kvadrat's understanding of design in the interior space – specifically how textile is used for furniture and the home – is of great value.” That understanding, for Kristoffersen, starts right at the heart of the material. “Kvadrat's textiles are made from high quality wool procured through a tightly controlled process from raw material to finished product.”

Aluminium & Wool

The unique textured “melange” effect for Beoplay M3's textile cover comes from the raw wool, sourced from flocks of sheep in Southern Australia and New Zealand, being dyed early in the process before the yarn is spun. This, Skjold explains, is what makes the M3 speaker textiles unique, for customers who choose that cover. “It really softens it up, you have this aluminium that's a bit cold, but really perfect,” she says, “but this woollen textile is a warm, tactile surface – you could even say it's a bit imperfect, but in an aesthetic way.”

 
 

From local to global and back again

Skjold explains, “We are small Danish companies that have grown into global brands,” she says. “There's such a lot of synergy there – and a lot of stories to be told”. The tale of this collaboration begins in 2015 with textiles for our Beoplay A6 speaker, which led to a textile being developed for our Beoplay A9 and the Beoplay M5 speakers – and now Beoplay M3. Earlier this year Kvadrat also supplied a different textile for the larger wall-mounted Beoshape modular speakers.

Future Materials

Skjold explains; “we like to expand the boundaries of textile use, aesthetically, artistically and technologically.” Kristoffersen sums it up: “The collaboration has brought a new material to B&O PLAY's interior collection that not only complements our products – making them blend in while standing out – but also softens them up with warmth and contrast to harder surfaces like aluminium, without alienating them. A product that puts sound in the context of the home must master this balance.”

 
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