Looks Like a Toy, Plays Music Like a Smartphone

The Musikbox 1188 speaker allows you to sync with your friends' music streams live, from anywhere in the world, for one big global jam sesh.

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There are more than 30 million songs on Spotify. Let's say that each track on Spotify is an average of three minutes long. That means that Spotify alone contains at least 900 million minutes of music. It would take you 1,712 years to listen to all of it. Think of all the bands you're missing, all the songs that will never be your "song of the summer," all the genres of music you won't even know existed. That anxiety you're now experiencing is called "choice overload," and it was what motivated German designer Ludwig Rensch's to create the stylish Musikbox 1188 for his master's thesis project at Stuttgart's State Academy of Arts and Design.

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A beautiful way to stay connected to the music your friends love.

"I found myself listening to just a couple of albums on Spotify for weeks, because I was so overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of music," Rensch says. "But listening to music and discovering new stuff should be fun, right? So I tried to figure out a way where people can think less and just dive into something new. I think the best way to do this is to listen to the stuff that your friends are into, people you know well."

A little peg turns the device on and off, adjusts the volume, and allows you to sync with your friends' music streams. It does it all.

The Musikbox 1188 is an unassuming speaker that looks like a toy but is actually a clever and powerful way to stay connected with your more musically savvy friends. On the top of the speaker are five round holes, one removable knob, and an auxiliary output. You can plug your phone directly to the speaker—or connect via Bluetooth—to play music, adjusting the volume with the knob in the first hole.

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Use the Musikbox 1188 app to assign channels to your friends; you can also see who's listened to your music.

The other four holes along the top of the Musikbox 1188 serve as channels for your friends' music, which you set up using the Musikbox app. When a friend begins playing music via Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal, a light will illuminate on the Musikbox. You then simply move the knob to the corresponding hole, which syncs the speaker to your friend's music stream, allowing you to listen to what they're listening to in real time.

The overall simplicity of the device is representative of Rensch's general approach to industrial design. "Some things you just use, and you hardly notice that technology was involved. There's other stuff where you feel like it's you against the technology, and you feel stupid," he says. "I wanted to eliminate the feeling that you could do something wrong, like push the wrong button."

The world's simplest diagram, for the world's simplest speaker.

And you literally can't push the wrong button on the Musikbox 1188, because there aren't really any buttons to push. The single knob clicks into place in each hole through magnets, and can be twisted to adjust the volume. There are no other pegs to turn, no cords to contend with.

"I wanted the Musikbox to be calm and quiet, aesthetically speaking," Rensch explains, "because most of the time you're using it, you don't want to touch it and you're not looking at it. You're listening to music, right? And that's where your attention should be."

The Musikbox 1188 isn't for sale just yet, but you can learn more about Ludwig Rensch's cheerful, minimalist approach to design, and the other products he's brought to life, at ludwigrensch.com.

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