Decades back, home stereos were often proudly housed in handsome wood cabinets that kept power plugs out of sight, and often boasted their own built-in speakers. The new series from Gesa Hansen plays off those populist mid-century pieces, also keeps the wires under wraps, and offers high fidelity, all on a contemporary scale. The collaboration between The Hansen Family and Tivoli Audio offers two modern sound solutions for the home audio enthusiast. The first is the Radio Rack, a smaller piece in dark wood that doubles as a magazine display rack, while the second, the Sound Sideboard, is a substantial cabinet in sustainable wood with a special hinged back to conceal wires and room for two speakers. We'd have 'em both, if we could.
Designer Tracy Wilkinson and architect Simon Storey, the creative team behind the newly launched Store LA, are a bit like the handcrafted wares they produce: understated yet elegant. We spoke with the designers about launching Store LA, living and working in Los Angeles, and got the scoop on Simon’s much buzzed-about—and super cool—Wow & Flutter speaker system.
Hey Tracy. When and how did you and Simon cross paths and why did you decide to launch Store LA together?
We have known each other for 10 years and met through good friend and artist Zoe Crosher. We discovered that we shared a love of making items by hand, whether it was a piece of furniture, or a lamp, or wallpaper. Every time we would be at a gathering of friends you could find us sitting in a corner discussing ideas and sharing techniques. We both appreciated each other’s aesthetic, although we feel they are quite different, and felt that putting our work together in one place made sense.
You’re both expats living and working in LA. How does the art and design scene in LA differ from that of the UK and New Zealand?
Simon: New Zealand design is very isolated and regional. However, there are similarities with Los Angeles such as an appreciation of natural materials. I personally feel just as at home in LA as NZ, so right there is a very strong link.
Tracy: I think both places are vastly different in attitude but there is an eclecticism to British design that I see here, too. I spent my childhood in a small town surrounded by English countryside so I was exposed to natural materials that have shaped my work, as they have Simon's.
Simon, can you tell me about your Wow & Flutter speaker system? Did you design the speakers out of personal necessity or was it a project for a client? Are you a music buff?
The design is a personal project. It came after visiting a local thrift store known for its audio equipment where I found a virtual mountain of speakers piled high. I guess they had just received a big delivery. The jumbled pile stuck with me and I started sketching ideas. The outcome of all this is the Wow & Flutter speaker system which can be stacked and combined in endless ways. The name comes from an unwanted distortion that vinyl produces. And yes, I’ve always loved music and spent a lot of time in high school designing and building speaker systems. I was even a country music DJ at one point.
Do you have any plans to collaborate on a line of products together or introduce other artists and designers on the site?
We are planning on introducing other artists as they come along. As long as the aesthetic fits with the store, we would love to do it. We are also open to collaboration with other artists, as well as between the two of us.
What’s your favorite item on the Store LA site right now?
I'm kind of a retro-look-loving, modern-sound-liking guy on some level. Aren't we all? Oh, how I would love to give a good home to one of these soundpauli. upcycled speakers—from the sleazy neighborhood where the Beatles cut their gigging teeth. The duo of Markus Rilling & Jan Kuntoff take old boxes, speaker cases, and radios and refurbish them by hand into portable, battery-powered active speakers, all in their studio in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg, Germany. They also give them handles, so you can bring your Paul or Pauline anywhere you want, hook it up to your smartphone, computer, er, mini-disc player, and crank it up. Even better, if you have a box in mind (say one from Grandpa's attic), they'll give it the soundpauli. treatment—price negotiable.