However, with wireless technology freeing these products of cables and power cords, they now have the freedom to take on a variety of shapes and forms. This is precisely what Danish firm Libratone is doing with its range of high-end wireless speakers that all feature the Scandinavian design characteristics of simplicity, craftsmanship and elegant minimalism.

“We design to add value to the life of the user. We believe this value is created in the intersection between the freedom of wireless technology, high-end sound quality, and an aesthetic that blurs the lines between design object and technology. This is not a combination that you see very often,” explains Kristian Kroyer, Libratone’s creative director.

This young Copenhagen-based company recently added a new speaker to its range, but unlike its predecessors, the Libratone Zipp is compact and portable. According to Kroyer, Libratone wanted to create a speaker that could go with the user wherever they went, yet still be noticed and stand out from the crowd. The result is a cylindrical speaker that is 25.9 cm high, 12.2 cm across and weighs 1.82 kg.

The shape is highly functional as it enables the tweeters and mid-range drivers to disperse sound in different directions to provide a full 360° sound. “Unlike conventional speakers, which have a ‘sweet spot’ directly in front of the speaker, our patented FullRoom technology disperses sound in all directions for an unrivalled experience – no matter where the listener happens to be,” explains Kroyer.

“Also, as the Zipp has no back side – it can’t turn its back on anyone and has a much greater outreach to those who come into contact with it. Therefore, we like to call it a ‘social speaker’,” he adds.

The cylindrical shape also serves an aesthetic purpose by making it a beautiful design object for the home. “We see the Zipp as being more than just a speaker.

We wanted to make it a product that can fit into a modern, urban lifestyle and look good sitting next to a consumer’s favourite piece of furniture. We don’t believe that a regular speaker can do that because many don’t gel with a home interior as they look too industrial. People don’t just want great sound, they want a great look too,” says Kroyer.

In fact, Kroyer’s favourite feature of the Zipp is one that is often ignored on many speakers – it’s the way 
in which the leather handle or strap hides the buttons and connectors underneath. “We didn’t want the product to look great but then have a small, but noticeable blip of visible connectors which a lot of electronic products neglect,” he comments.

But possibly the Zipp’s biggest design statement is the fine Italian wool covers, which come in eight different colours, including Salty Grey, Pepper Black, Pineapple Yellow, Raspberry Red, Passion Pink, Plum Purple, Petrol Blue and Icy Blue.

“We wanted the Zipp to look inviting but also flexible, being able to fit into anyone’s home, workplace or when outside. Therefore, the fact that the covers are interchangeable was very important to the design. 
We don’t like glossy black plastic and synthetic textiles. We like high-quality wool, wood and leather, and so do a lot of our customers,” he says.

Additionally, unlike most portable speakers that rely upon Bluetooth technology, the Libratone Zipp opts instead for Apple’s Airplay technology and a new technology developed especially for the product called PlayDirect. Working in conjunction with AirPlay, this PlayDirect technology creates a direct Wi-Fi connection between the Libratone Zipp and any compatible device – such as an iPhone, iPod, iPad or computer running iTunes – to wirelessly stream music. This wireless high-end audio eliminates the need for the Zipp to be close to a wireless network, which means that the user can take their speaker outside to play music on the beach, at a picnic or on a camping trip.

“The underlying technology behind PlayDirect is not a Libratone invention, but provided as part of the AirPlay ‘foundation’ of the speaker,” explains Kroyer. “However, the Libratone Zipp is the world’s first product authorised by Apple to use the technology, thanks to the quality and ease-of-use that Libratone brought to the technology and its implementation in the Libratone Zipp.”

This small Danish company is trying to make a big impact with its stylish range of speakers that may cost that little bit extra but ensure a high-quality product that users will want to show off in their homes. As Kroyer explains, at Libratone they design products that they themselves would love to own: “We have made designing by heart our business strategy. We design for ourselves, according to our own high standard. This might sound narrow-minded, but we believe it is in fact the exact opposite. If we do not want to own our own speaker, why should we expect anyone else to?”

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