With shorter days and winter on its way, everyone could use a little more light. Enter Teno, a speaker, lamp, and design object from creator Max Gunawan, the maker of the Lumio flippable book light. Inspired by the Japanese art of ‘kintsugi’, in which broken pottery pieces are reconnected with touches of gold, the bowl-shaped Teno comes alive when touched—a gold-lined ‘crack’ down its middle sliding open to reveal soft, ambient light and a high-quality sound speaker.
“How do I create an object that is not only beautiful, but when you interact with it, it comes alive?” This was the question Gunawan asked himself when crafting the follow-up to his wildly successful 2013 project, which was nominated for Cooper Hewitt’s Smithsonian Design Museum’s People’s Design Award and is now available at the MoMA design store. When designing Teno, Gunawan was determined to make a product that could look and sound at home in nature while still able to stand on its own as a design piece.
Over the course of the last few years, the entrepreneur found himself spending more time in nature in search of solace and inspiration. “Going into nature is when you feel the most magic, hearing all of these sounds—the stream, the birds,” he explains. While on a business trip to Japan, he found himself exploring the region’s legendary forests, known for their centuries-old healing properties.
“It’s easy to fall in love with Japan,” he jokes. But Gunawan also found himself gravitating toward the world of Japanese pottery, ceramics, and wabi-sabi, a world view centred around the acceptance of transience and imperfection, which led to the discovery of kintsugi. “When you drop a plate or a vase, rather than throwing it away, you could piece it back together. That resonated with me,” he explains, mentioning it fits into his broader belief that design and technology should seek to be sustainable, rather than be built with planned obsolescence.
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On its surface, Teno is a beautifully crafted bowl sculpture made from natural sand. When cracked open, it comes alive; revealing soft, warm light that you can adjust with a simple tap. When fully open, it’s a powerful speaker, releasing a rich sound that you control through touch.⠀ ⠀ Be the first to hold Teno in your hands. Available for pre-orders (link in bio).⠀ ⠀ #teno #hellolumio #kintsugi
When creating Teno, Gunawan attempted to capture the spirit of his travels with a “modern interpretation of a sound bowl” made of cast resin, its surface coated in a natural sand patina to create a unique textured pattern and tactile quality. As Teno ages, the patina continues to enhance, bringing a celebration of “perfection in the imperfect.”
“The world doesn’t need more sleek plastic surfaces,” asserts Gunawan, who hopes Teno will change the way we think of modern technological design. “I want to break the cycle of yearly upgrades and obsolescence and focus on delight, beauty, and quiet joy,” he writes on Teno’s Kickstarter page, “that feeling that I get when I drink my morning coffee from an old ceramic cup that’s only gotten more beautiful over time. Teno is very much inspired by this idea of hanging on to the few precious pieces that we have at home. Super simple and intuitive.”
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The world doesn’t need any more sleek plastic surfaces. Made from natural sand, we designed Teno to be a portable speaker like no other. Crack it open to switch it on, control it with simple intuitive hand gestures.⠀ ⠀ Click the link in bio if you want to learn more about Teno.⠀ ⠀ #teno #hellolumio #kintsugi
Unlike many other high-end sound systems, Teno is activated by finger movements across its surface enabling you to regulate the sound. To turn on its light, just “crack open the shell” and fully separate the bowl, activating the speaker, which can then stream music from your smartphone. Teno is also compact enough to hold in the palm of your hand, and is equipped with a powerful 45mm full-range driver for superior bass and treble—to adjust the volume, just slide your finger up and down the side of the bowl.
There are also four brightness levels you can adjust by tapping the top surface to activate the dimmer. Teno can also be used as a call system: to answer, just touch the top surface closer to the edge, and the surface closer to the border to end the call. With magnetic charging, the sleek charger can be placed under the bowl, its head snapping into place and an indicator light signalling when Teno is at full charge.
“I wanted to create something unique, a new way of experiencing sound,” explains Gunawan, who also hopes Teno will illuminate why recycling alone won’t solve our environmental problems. “We need to change how we consume products.” He believes that Teno, designed with sustainably sourced parts and a modern aesthetic meant to become more beautiful and cherished with age, will help the industry rethink its approach to product design. “The point is not about the technology, but about the experience,” he says, “and how do I make all of these inanimate objects come alive, have a personality that you connect with? That was my philosophy and approach in designing this product. I hope it resonates.”
This article was written by Kickstarter’s design and technology editor, Laura Feinstein.
When Ti Chang was studying industrial design at the Royal College of Art more than a decade ago, vibrators were a taboo shunted to seedy neighbourhoods. Chang recalls how she and her friends would visit “dark, sketchy DVD stores” to buy thoughtlessly designed sex toys—“these phallic things with a little bunny on it.” The experience wasn’t exactly palatable, but Chang nevertheless saw an element of power in it. “I felt like I had agency over my pleasure,” she says.
Chang also saw how the industry could clearly do more to cater to women—and the clitoris. She co-founded CRAVE to design and develop elegant products for pleasure. Now, those vibrators appear in such mainstream locations as Ann Summers, Goop, Saint Laurent, the Standard Hotel, and Violet Grey, and at events like Coachella, South by Southwest, and the global tech conference CES.
As she’s pushed to put pleasure front and center, she’s seen the many ways women and gender non-conforming people want to own their sexuality. So her latest orgasm-inducing offering allows users to program custom vibration patterns or even assemble hardware (with plenty of expert instruction). The Duet Pro, now live on Kickstarter, is a clitoral vibrator that encourages users to really pay attention to what they want—and learn how to create it.
Chang’s first industrial design job, at the women-focused hair accessory company Goody, didn’t involve much industrial design at first. “They were basically allowing business managers to shop off the factory shelves in China. It was not all about the consumer and their experience.” When Chang convinced the president of the company to let her do consumer research and lead an industrial design process, the result was the ‘Ouchless brush’, which became the company’s bestseller for nearly a decade.
At her next job, designing bikes for Trek, she was the first woman on the team. “They specifically wanted me to be able to bring a different perspective,” she says, “the design manager knew that it was time to diversify. The prevailing philosophy at the time in designing for women was to just shrink down male proportions. Having only a bunch of dudes in the room was selling themselves short.”
The takeaway was that more women needed to be at the table designing the products that women use.
Then 2008—and the Great Recession—hit. Chang was having trouble finding work, but had some money saved up, and had a “crazy idea” she just couldn’t shake.
Of all the products for women that didn’t really meet women’s needs, none stuck out to her as blatantly as vibrators.
“I think as a designer, you look at things in a different way,” she says. “You know how things could be and should be. You look at the language of an object and you can see the care and the integrity that goes into it. When I looked at the landscape of sex toys, I realised this is really not thought about. Our industry, our culture doesn’t think that women’s pleasure is worthy of serious design and engineering considerations.”
She started a company called INCOQNITO that she soon after sold to CRAVE and joined as a co-founder.
“Our design and engineering aspire to be like that of Apple,” she says, “and we have a mission that is more in the spirit of Tesla, but with a rather…shall we say…different personality than Elon.”
From the beginning, both companies have created products to serve a higher human aspiration. For Musk, that’s creating a sci-fi-worthy solution for climate change. For Chang, it’s opening the conversation on female pleasure.
“For one, I wanted to start with the clitoris,” she says. “There’s plenty of research that something like only 18 per cent of women can actually orgasm via penetration alone. That for me was a really powerful fact. And there’s this gap between male orgasms and female orgasms in intercourse, it makes you wonder what’s really going on. It’s that the clitoris is not being focused on. We, as a culture, have almost designed the clitoris out of our basic human anatomy education.”
The clitoris wasn’t fully documented as a pleasure organ until 1998, and several prominent medical textbooks continue to omit or minimise information on it, while penises are covered in great detail. The misinformation and misunderstanding is so pervasive that activists have coined the term “cliteracy” to talk about it.
Chang’s vibrators aim to contribute to that movement by giving women better tools for achieving orgasms, selling them like a dignified product, and hosting events and conversations to destigmatise and normalise sexual pleasure.
“These products should not be in the gutter like how they’ve been presented for so many decades,” she says. “If every time you had to buy a bathing suit you had to go into some dodgy shop, you’d feel like you’re doing something wrong. That’s the language that we unfortunately put out there when we force women to make do with these really thoughtless products predominantly designed by men.”
One way Chang has approached normalising conversations around pleasure is making ‘sex jewellery’ like the Vesper, a stylish necklace that subtly doubles as vibrator.
“But launching a jewellery product during this time when no one is going out just makes zero sense,” she says. So instead, her team prepared to launch a vibrator that “embraces the diversity of experiences and allows people to really customise the vibrations they want.” In quarantine, they figured, more people have time to really pay attention to their pleasure.
The Duet Pro comes with four pre-programmed patterns, each with four different power settings. You could use it as-is—the team used years of preference data to determine popular configurations—or plug it into your computer, open a web browser, type in your vibrator serial number, and use a drag-and-drop dashboard to customise the pattern and power. “Then you just download what you just did online onto the body of the product so that it’s almost like a little zip drive,” Chang explains.
The Kickstarter campaign for the Duet Pro also offers backers the option to assemble the hardware itself.
“Build-a-vibe is something we’ve been doing since super early on,” Chang says. “We accidentally stumbled upon it when we did our first crowdfunding campaign and we didn’t have enough people to build everything. We had a pizza party, invited all our friends, and people built with us for days.”
That social environment, surrounded by vibrators, started some great conversations. “We noticed the environment was super cool. People were so happy, they brought even more friends, and it just became this really open, comfortable conversation that they normally would not have had.”
They’ve since done more intentional variations on this gathering with California Academy of Science, South by Southwest, Playboy, and HBO. For their Kickstarter campaign, they’ve developed a videoconferencing version.
“It’s something that allows us to kind of geek out over the design,” Chang says, “but at the same time, the DIY makes [participants] feel accomplished. Like one woman told me, ‘I don’t even build my own Ikea furniture, and I just built my own vibrator!’ That’s amazing. It creates this sense of ownership.”