This sleek, minimalist radio comes from a project about reworking existing components through changes in form and function. The steps were to buy a cheap consumer radio, gut it, and change its on/off, volume, and tuning functions into new interactions that were both visually and functionally engaging.

The main body is acrylic, and the base is painted plywood. The red detailing is craft paper.

A precise pattern cut into the acrylic allows for the curved speaker grill and flexible buttons.

FORM

My visual challenge, once I had decided on the basic shape and materiality of the radio, was to make sure that it did not end up looking menacing, kitschy, or ostentatious. A shiny, solid black shell combined with red details could have easily led me to one of these aesthetic pitfalls. To counter this, I decided to keep the shape simple and convex, with a rounded side to help it feel approachable, and a heavy base to ground it.

The end result is a combination of the style of traditional Japanese architecture and the form and colors of a device out of science fiction. An unconventional look, perhaps, but one that I think is visually striking and encourages interest in the radio's interaction.

My initial sketches were complex contraptions referencing animals and natural forms, which changed to more geometric shapes as I developed my concept.

First draft render of final concept, with pivot instead of flexible switches.

Render with flexible switches added. Number of flat panels and color scheme had not yet been decided.

Render with flexible switches added. Number of flat panels and color scheme had not yet been decided.

Testing the spacing of the added buttons

Fitting the wires and button mounts

Final form with top removed

FUNCTION

The interaction of this radio came from the idea of pushing the material to its limit. Laser cutting patterns into larger sheets of acrylic allowed for six flexible buttons in the three front panels, as well as a large speaker grille inherently present in the curved back end of the radio.

The electronics from a standard consumer clock radio have been spliced with six buttons controlling on/off, volume, and tuning, all activated by the flexible outer panels.