In 2014, Berlin-based designer and illustrator Axel Pfaender successfully crowdfunded a flat-pack portable speaker, the Berlin Boombox (opens in new tab). The classic '80s-style ghetto blaster for the IKEA generation was a smash hit, and when Pfaender told us that he was launching a wireless version of the cardboard boombox, we were desperate to try it out.
The DIY music player is as cool and fun as the first iteration but now features Bluetooth connection, meaning you can leave your smartphone in your pocket while you carry the Berlin Boombox to your local skate park on your shoulder.
The best thing about the Boombox from a designer's point of view, of course, is the completely blank version that comes with a six-pack of Montana acrylic markers. This means you can create your own design of Boombox – how awesome is that?
But what is it actually like to use? Well, it is not the last word in audio quality – especially at the €119 price point of the Montana Boombox – but it is actually surprisingly punchy with decent detail. Think a good set of computer speakers rather than a dedicated music streaming audio device, and you won't be disappointed.
The minimalist interface is just one single aluminum knob, which adds a cheeky contrast to the cardboard construction. I would actually have preferred to see a cardboard knob, but that's probably not practical. And anyone worried about flimsiness need not be – once built (which only takes a few minutes of folding and slotting, plus attaching some wires), the Berlin Boombox is very sturdy. Just keep it out of the rain…
One small problem... The slot doesn't fit my iPhone 6S Plus, and therefore I presume any of the phablet-sized smartphones will similarly struggle to slide into the gap. Even when using Bluetooth, it'd be nice to have somewhere other than blacktop to store your phone while shooting some hoops. I imagine that this flaw is something that can easily be rectified by the manufacturer with a tweak or two.
All Berlin Boombox (opens in new tab) designs are available with or without Bluetooth Audio, and although they are a little pricey for the sound quality, their uniqueness and sense of fun are worth the admission fee alone.