Master & Dynamic x Steffen Kehrle for Wallpaper* Handmade Salon

Born out of a mutual appreciation for sophisticated design, classic materials, and luxurious functionality, we partnered with industrial designer Steffen Kehrle to create a unique sound piece: a gramophone-inspired standing speaker that integrates Master & Dynamic headphones. This collaborative project evolved from an invitation to participate in Handmade, Wallpaper*‘s annual art and design event that brings together the best designers, artists and manufacturers to create “one-off wonders.” The 10,000 spoke with Steffen Kehrle – based in his Vienna studio, Atelier – to understand his process and how this sound installation came to be.

While Kehrle’s only other foray into sound-related installations was a piece called Tandem, a sculpture featuring a playable double guitar, music is a foundational part of his process. “Everything that triggers emotions is a key element to my work. It’s never monotone,” he says. Inspired by the design and utility of the Master & Dynamic headphones, he knew he wanted to feature them in “bring[ing] sound to the room.” For Kehrle, headphones are “brilliantly constructed pieces” that are “too valuable to put in a drawer,” and as such he designed an installation that would allow people to “exhibit [their headphones] at home while using them for what they are made for: transporting sound.”

Kehrle and Master & Dynamic had three weeks to plan and execute the project before the items were displayed at the Salone del Mobile, an international art and design show held in Milan in May 2015 as part of Wallpaper’s Handmade event, which felt “impossible” to Kehrle. His typical process for new projects allows his team ample time to brainstorm, experiment with prototypes, and have face-to-face client interactions. With less time for ideation, the MH40 and MH30 headphones arrived at Kehrle’s studio within two days of the start of the project. After just one listening session with the headphones, he proclaimed that the sound was “fantastic.”

The next step was creating cardboard mockups, then a prototype out of metal. Kerhle and his team cast the final product out of powder-coated sheet metal. With sleek, clean lines, the installation transforms a pair of headphones from a personal listening device to a music-sharing speaker. Celebrating the union of form and function, this piece allowed Kerhle to “play with a double function…[and] look on not just decorative things, but well-designed objects with an added value.”

Kehrle finds inspiration in everything from his day-to-day life – “meeting friends is one of the most influential things you can do” – to his extensive library of “meaningful artists,” but his foundation remains in the intersection of beauty and utility. For Kehrle inspiration is only the beginning. After uncovering the first “slight glimmer of an idea… this is when you want to dig deeper and your works starts,” he says. For more beauty meets functionality, check out the Master & Dynamic x Steffen Kehrle collaboration on the cover of Wallpaper*’s August “Handmade” issue.

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