For many designers, a regular complaint is that an idea never goes beyond the page. But for Toulouse-based Coralie Gourguechon, it was a case of turning the page into the idea. Gourguechon has combined graphic design and basic electronics to turna simple sheet of paper into a functioning speaker using eight electrical components.”I am a product designer, but I am interested in electronics and want to make it easier to understand,” she says.
The inspiration for the paper speaker came from an earlier design project called the Craft Camera – a digital camera housed in a simple cardboard casing. “I wanted to print the circuit directly on the case,” says Gourguechon. “But the electronic system was too complicated, so I decided to design something more simple.”
Her design invites the user to assemble the diagram on page, using the industry standard symbols to identify where each component sits. Printed on the reverse is a graphical key that relates the abstract symbols to the physical component, providing a crucial interpretation for laypeople. Each component is attached to the sheet using conductive glue and connected to the next component with a line printed in conductive ink. To turn the speaker on, the speaker is folded up and two contacts at the edge of the cone complete the circuit. To turn the speaker off, the cone is folded flat – thus breaking the circuit.
The complexity of everyday electronic objects baffles most of us, and Gourguechon feels that this builds redundancy into systems. She is sceptical in particular of the closed systems that the electronics industry employ that limit the public’s understanding of the technologies they own and their ability to repair or modify them.
It is perhaps therefore better to view the paper speaker as an illustration of the simplicity of these unseen systems, rather than a viable product that can be used daily. In this, it is symptomatic of an increasing trend against the high-tech by designers who are looking beyond aesthetics and ergonomics and pursuing the technological essence of products. “I hope that the graphical system can be developed into an open system or software,” Gourguechon explains, “so that people can create their own circuits and designs from electronic problems, and add to or improve the system. This whole project can be appropriated for learning.”