Kickstarting: A Modular, Ceramic Speaker System With Smarts

Use one, two, or five individual units to easily create a full Dolby surround system, with each speaker knowing its channel based solely on the direction it’s aimed.

High-end audio systems have always meant wires, and by connection, spatial permanence. You have a “listening room” or a “home theater system.” Sound is tied to a place, unless you have headphones. With few exceptions, good speakers live in one room only.


The Unmonday 4.3L is a ceramic, Airplay-compatible speaker. That means it can wirelessly play music streaming from your iPhone, all while housed within a timeless build material that will never warp or distort. This pairing unto itself is unique–it’s rare that high-end tech mixes with old-world materials–but where Unmonday really differs is its radically simplified UI for pairing multiple speakers into multi-channel systems. You can take any single speaker from room to room, or you can arrange a pair into stereo channels, or you can even arrange five speakers into a full Dolby surround-sound setup. And the speakers will know what to do when you put them down.

The speakers skirt any need for programming or button-pressing to assign surround sound with an ingeniously simple trick. To define the speaker’s role, a user just places the speaker down on the corresponding labeled side of the hexagon (like “front left” or “back right”). Using built-in accelerometers, the speaker can feel which way it’s been placed and assign itself the proper channel, knowing intuitively whether it’s a soloist or part of a larger ensemble.

“There are a lot of elements inside, and a lot of different companies’ protocols. It’s getting the Airplay signal, it’s decoding it for Dolby, it’s sorting out which channel to play, it’s amplifying the sound. All this happens before you hear anything. Then there are the batteries and chargers and various electrical components,” co-creator Toni Sokura explains. “[But] outwards, it’s just a ceramic hexagon that emits sound. That as difficult as it needs to be.”

That hexagon is no accident, of course, but a functional piece of industrial design. The six-sided polygon perfectly complements the five-speaker Dolby setup, while putting five speakers together forms a thematic and geometric completion of the home audio system. No doubt, flat sides also keep the speakers from rolling around like vases, too.

The Unmonday speaker is just ending its campaign on Kickstarter now. And while it likely won’t make its $200,000 goal, the company has landed alternative funding and is promising to honor all pre-orders made before the campaign ends.

Order it here.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.