The Beosound Emerge is Bang & Olufsen’s second collaboration with Benjamin Hubert and his consultancy LAYER. A compact yet surprisingly strong powered speaker, Emerge is designed to dovetail with your day to day life. ‘We’ve worked on a handful of products with the company, but this is the second one to see the light of day,’ the designer says, explaining that B&O exists in a unique space in consumer electronics. ‘They’re not like Google or Samsung in their size or culture, nor are they an artisanal furniture maker. But they are somewhere in the middle. LAYER is the same – we’re more of an agency with the ability to do everything from traditional furniture through to strategic industrial design.’

Whereas LAYER’s previous B&O product, the Balance, was a free-standing sculptural object, the Emerge is designed to sit on a shelf, perhaps alongside books or other objects. ‘The Balance is more akin to a vase, whereas this is quieter,’ says Hubert. While beautiful standalone objects get the most attention, Hubert acknowledges that industrial design has a duty to blend in. ‘Context is everything. Designing in a vacuum doesn’t get you very far,’ he says, ‘You have to think what might go next to it, whether it’s books or objects or even more tech.’ 

Beosound Emerge
The Beosound Emerge is designed to co-exist with everyday objects

The speaker’s wide sound field is paired with gesture control for volume changes and soft touch music navigation. The Emerge can also be paired with an existing B&O system to add another layer of sound, together with a built-in Google Assistant. Under the skin, there are impressive electronics. ‘We’ve become much more knowledgeable about acoustics thanks to this collaboration,’ he says, ‘I’d genuinely never seen such a small speaker product such a high level of volume and quality as this.’ The Emerge contains three drivers, carefully packaged to manage heat and sound projection. ‘It’s a very controlled piece of industrial design,’ he says, ‘I guess you could say that it’s minimalist or even an example of reductionism.’ The package is enveloped in offset layers, with the speaker grille or weave, depending on the model, appearing to emerge from between two covers. ‘It’s not a massive statement,’ Hubert says modestly, ‘of course, there are other, cheaper speakers, but Bang & Olufsen have a very impressive commitment to quality and upgradeability. They really invest in materiality.’ 

Beosound Emerge
The Beosound Emerge is a masterpiece of clever packaging and high quality materials 

The Emerge showcases this, with two different models, Black Anthractite that one combining of aluminium with pleated plastic and the other, Gold Tone, combining the metal with high quality knit Kvadrat fabric and oak. ‘It wasn’t designed to look like a book,’ Hubert admits, ‘although it was of course intended to stand on a shelf. The tapered form helps with cooling.’ Under the sleek skin is a masterfully assembled set of components. ‘Their tonmeisters are pretty amazing,’ he says, ‘what you can’t see are the beautiful heat sinks and carefully calculated air flow.’ 

The two different Emerge personalities also highlight an evolution in how we view technology in the home. ‘The wood is quite a courageous choice, I think,’ Hubert says, ‘it has a sense of familiarity which is becoming very popular. It’s actually a very exciting time to be a designer. There is so much desire and drive for change. Often in design you’re playing with relatively surface level elements because formats don’t need changing. But these days there are more meaningful reasons for change.’ Emerge is a subtle statement that has a strong presence in the home.§

Beosound Emerge in Gold Tone
Beosound Emerge in Gold Tone, with Kvadrat fabric and oak panels