We’ve joined forces with some of the UK’s most innovative talent to create something seriously cool: the Here’s To Creativity project. Over the new few months, we’ll be collaborating with the brightest “changemakers” in design, art, and technology, helping to bring their big ideas to life in order to change and enrich the way you use your smartphone.
To kickstart the campaign, we called upon the incredible talents of Chelsea College of Art & Design graduate Justin Wolter. We tasked Justin with designing a unique accessory specifically designed to work with your HTC One’s BoomSound™ stereo speakers. And Justin gave us… the Gramohorn II, a smartphone dock that amplifies music naturally without needing any power or cables, creating a truly unique non-electric stereo amplifier!
The Gramohorn II is a limited edition, 3D-printed piece of technological mastery. It’s hand-finished and available in any color, or in a very stylish stainless steel. The Gramohorn II is limited to a production run of just 100 pieces for the plaster-based version and only 10 pieces for the metal-based version, each uniquely numbered. We caught up with designer extraordinaire Justin to tell us more about his unique design and his experience of working hands-on with HTC.
Tell us a bit about your collaboration with HTC.
I was doing some experimental work with 3D printing in regards to amplifying sound, when someone from HTC came across one of my early prototypes and approached me to discuss the possibility of tweaking it for their new smartphone, the HTC One. After hearing about its features — especially the front-facing BoomSound stereo speakers — it became clear to me it was an ideal pairing and in many ways.
The result is the Gramohorn II – a completely new design that is exclusively tailored for the HTC One smartphone.
You created a very unique design using an unusual method — 3D printing. What was the inspiration behind the design?
I started the Gramohorn project as a response to the recent take-off in 3D printing and wanting to create something that challenged the technology in a more substantial and interesting way.
At present, I find that a lot of 3D printing within design is being approached at a rudimentary, almost cosmetic level and failing to explore the inherent potential — and limitations — in a deeper, more conceptual context. Such a substantial change to the nature of ‘making’ will undoubtedly have an impact on the way objects are perceived and valued amongst society, akin to the effects of the industrial and digital revolutions. It is this conceptual and unexplored potential within 3D printing that I find interesting and the reason I started the project.
The decision to explore acoustics came about after seeing a number of (disappointing) mobile phone accessories currently on the market, all designed to amplify sound. I was convinced that I could create something better. The inspiration behind the design of the Gramohorn II is a result of adhering to a few basic rules in acoustics to help dictate key aesthetic decisions. Referencing traditional brass instruments as a starting point, curves on the model were pushed and pulled toward achieving a contemporary organic aesthetic that still maintained its classical roots.
What have been the biggest challenges in this project?
The biggest challenge was being in such new and unfamiliar territory. The combination of design, acoustic engineering and 3D printing, involved having to work closely with other specialists and relying on their expertise to inform the design development. Trust played a big part.
The Gramohorn II increases the volume by 50% without using any technology or power. Tell us more about the technique to amplify the sound.
The Gramohorn II functions as a resonance chamber, which is a predominantly enclosed space that allows sound to bounce around inside and resonate. As sound waves from the HTC One enter into each chamber, they combine and reinforce one another, increasing intensity and causing amplification. The result is a substantial increase in audible volume, as well as lower frequencies and bass notes being enhanced — achieving louder, fuller and generally better-sounding music, without the need for power or cables.
Who would the Gramohorn II appeal to and why?
Gramohorn II embodies qualities that attempt to bridge art, hoping to prompt discussion around contemporary issues within current society. While the Gramohorn II aims to appeal to tech-savvy audiophiles who own an HTC One, it is also hoped that the additional layers of context will expand its perception towards being viewed as a form of social commentary and even sculptural art.
You worked closely with one of the main features of the HTC One — the front facing BoomSound™ stereo speakers. What other features of the phone do you find useful or beneficial in day-to-day life?
Sticking to my remit as a designer, I would say that one of the most “useful” features of the HTC One is in its design. The sleek aluminium casing with its satin finish speaks of quality. It feels and looks the part. The phone is beautifully proportioned. Stylish. Understated. Sleek.
So tell us, what song would you play first on your Gramohorn II?