Acoustic Chapel (bluetooth speaker)

By: Melody Ren, Ruijie Liu, Zhengji Li, Yuting Hu
Course: IAT 336 Materials in Design

Project description: We were inspired by the Notre Dame de Paris and the Victor Hugo novel of the same name to create a bluetooth speaker with a distinctive gothic style modeled after the cathedral. We incorporated the pointed arches, stained-glasses windows, ribbed vaults, and spires into the speaker form and designed the speaker to provide an immersive acoustic experience and excellent aesthetic experience for the user. The main Bluetooth speaker is stored in the middle under the engraved wood panel and users can remotely control the speaker with digital devices. 

Fabrication, materials, and assembly

After initial material research, we planned to use wood to create panels in the middle and base surface, reflecting sound waves coming from the speaker and providing better acoustic experiences. Plaster was used to create pillars and arches, referring to gothic architecture and the concepts of religion, which adds to the feeling of modernity. We carved the plaster into arches and laser cut the wooden panels with hollows and patterns, which is highly ornamental and geometrical, in order to add beautiful decorations on the wood panels and to mix the modern feel of the plaster with the warm and antique feeling of wood. Multiple screws are applied to this model to connect parts together, adding its functionalities.

The main Bluetooth speaker is stored in the middle under the engraved wood panel and users can remotely control the speaker with digital devices. We designed a handle for the speaker opening where the speaker is stored to help users easily retrieve the speaker.

We first built the speaker using foam and made some changes based on the initial mockup. We used the pink foam part to represent plaster materials and the white part as wood materials. After that, we went through cutting and trimming, finishing, and assembling processes.

We prepared all the files in Illustrator and used laser-cutting techniques for all the wood panels to engrave all the patterns and cut out accurate shapes. To create the plaster parts, we first cut off several foam models in accurate sizes, mixed Alja moulding gel powders with equal amounts of water, and poured the mixtures to form exact molds. Then pour the plaster into the molds to get the final plaster model. Then, we sanded the uneven surfaces on the plaster pillars and arches and polished them into even surfaces. In addition to polishing them, we also carved gothic patterns on top of it, making them more attractive.

For the final assembly process, screws and hinges were used to anchor the parts together. For example, we used screws in the place that stores the speaker to better anchor it and on the speaker opening panels to function as a handle. Hammer is also applied when we are anchoring the main wood base panel with the plaster base, making them firmly attracted to each other. The glue gun was used to connect light strips and wood panels. After all that, a speaker in the shape of a gothic chapel was formed.