Music Horn

A new function for your old viking horn, and a new aesthetic for your personal smartphone amplifier.

During the Dutch design week I stumbled on a stall selling furs, skins and animal horns. Instantly the idea popped into my head. Simple, aesthetic, functional, durable, repairable, recyclable and minimal. These values are always on my mind and with that vision I started working on the music horn.

A wooden box with a brass horn and a needle sliding over a vinyl record; that’s the classic phonograph. The internet is full of acoustic amplifiers for smartphones; many of them taking inspiration from the 19th century object. Yet none of the designs that I could find was using a real horn from an animal. This actually surprised me as blow horn’s have been in European culture for millennia and yet it doesn’t really pop-up in European design.

Making and developing the product was a very quick process. My idea was to make the product and then look at what could be improved, and then make another one until finally I would end up with a satisfactory design. However due to other project’s I chose to pause the design process. During the Minimaker Fair in Eindhoven (a get together for both professionals and hobbyist) I exhibited my work. It was here that started receiving positive feedback from both professional designers and the public.

The two main components are naturally grown, the wood and the horn. In the last decade or so highland cattle were introduced to the dutch nature reserves. The animals are closely monitored and the population is strictly controlled to prevent too much imbalance with the natural environment. This from time to time leads to some of the animals being used for meat consumption, leaving behind two perfectly shaped horns. This is where the horn, used in the prototype, originates from.

The product produces an iconic sound almost like a real phonograph. The quality of the sound and the amplification tends to surprises people including my self.

I am confident that I can turn this project into a succes. There is a large market in acoustic smartphone amplifiers and I believe that my design can bring more diversity to this market.
But more important I wish to share this design with everyone and make it available for sale or for people to assemble it them selves.

Risks and Challenges

If I am to start up this kickstart project it would be during my graduation year as a design student. This would make full commitment to the project difficult. That is the main risk, the product it self is very simple in it’s design and can be easily reproduced. As a firm believer in ecological design, knowing where the materials originate from is paramount. I prefer not to use tropical hard woods but european wood types, this because I cannot know for certain if the wood was legally logged in a forest that is replanted. Knowing where the animal part comes from is important, ethical matters such as did the animal suffer? was it a free roaming animal? did it have a good life? These are matters that concern me, and that I need to find out first. I do know that Highland cattle living in the Dutch nature reserves are treated ethically, but the animals are incidentally butchered and thus making the horns scarce.