Not long ago, docking stations for iPhones were the newest trend in music technology. Now they are everywhere, including hotel rooms when you’re away from home. While there are several different varieties out there, one thing that most of them lack is style. After all, how inspiring is a basic black phone speaker?
Austrian design firm KMKG decided to bring a natural element to an otherwise sterile product line with the iTree: a one-of-a-kind docking station built directly into a tree trunk. The studio uses specialized tools to hollow out each tree and help the system achieve the optimal vibrations and sound quality. Once carved, the log is fitted with the necessary electrical components.
The idea for the iTree began as a submission to a 2009 art show in Graz, Austria. There, the sculptural docking station drew the attention of both business partners and potential customers. After a year of research and prototyping, the product became a reality on the consumer market.
Each piece is custom-made and every bit as unique as the tree it’s sourced from. Customers get to select exactly the wood they want, taking a ride through the forest to pick out a specific tree if they so choose. The iTree is typically made from spruce or white spruce, but the company welcomes the opportunity to work with other woods like cherry, poplar, stone pine, and nut. Once selected, the trees take a short trip to the carpenter’s studio, where the customer can decide how long they want theirs to be and which components they want it to contain. Lengths vary from 250 centimeters up to approximately 400 centimeters (98-147 inches).
The studio uses speaker systems developed by Trenner & Friedl, each one of which includes a docking port for iPhones and (for all you “old-school” audiophiles out there) iPods. They also rely on a few other partners for the project, including artisan Tischlerei Lenz, who shapes each trunk from its raw form into an iTree by hand. The process begins by scraping the bark from the surface. Several steps are then taken to properly hollow out the trunk, with careful consideration given to where each component will sit.
When it comes to selecting the electrical components themselves, customers have the option to equip their iTree with either a built-in or external amplifier. The former intensifies the sound for private rooms, while the latter provides a solid commercial option for businesses, restaurants, lounges, and lobbies so hundreds of people can enjoy the experience.
To suit all needs, the iTree can be installed a number of different ways. It’s most commonly placed on a self-containing stand, where it can either remain in one location or be moved to different areas. It can also be mounted to a wall or placed on a flat surface, such as a TV stand or long dresser. However the customer decides to mount their iTree, they should always remember to consider its weight, which registers at a whopping 175 pounds for even the smallest models.
Ready to swap out your run-of-the-mill docking station yet?