Released to just a limited 500 pairs, Teufel recently launched the first ever WIFI loudspreakers made from porcelain. The masterpiece was a cooperation with one of Germany’s porcelain veterans – Rosenthal.
Just after the launch of the Teufel x Rosenthal the Marketing Manager from Rosenthal, Julia Bimmerlein, came to pay us a visit. On a cosy Sunday afternoon in March, Julia joined our teatime celebrations, where visitors had the exclusive opportunity to test the new porcelain loudspeakers. In our blog article we speak to Julia about the visionary Philip Rosenthal, the innovation of the traditional company, and talked about demanding process required to make the porcelain loudspeakers.
Julia’s blog interview
After testing the speakers at the Teufel flagship store in Berlin, Julia took the time to answer some of our questions.
Blog Team: Hello Julia, welcome to Berlin. Let’s get straight to the first question. During the course of the company’s long history, Rosenthal has worked with over 150 contemporary designers, architects and artists, including Andy Warhol, Zaha Hadid, Walter Gropius and the fashion label Versace. So cooperation with external creatives is a part of the Rosenthal DNA. But, the collaboration with a loudspeaker company is a premiere, right?
Julia: In the past Rosenthal has been involved with the technical field and, for example, created insulators that were used in a substation. However, for sure, we never created porcelain for music like the Tefeul x Rosenthal. It’s a real premiere!
Blog Team: Rosenthal is already over 140 years old. Can you tell us more about the son of the founder, Philip Rosenthal jr. and explain his philosophy?
Julia: Philip was always looking forward, never backwards. And his strong will could tackle any resistance. His motto was: “Geht nicht, gibt’s nicht” (roughly translated “No such thing as ‘can’t'”). And this attitude has stayed with the company ever since. The Teufel x Rosenthal is a great example of this. Fitting the external amplifier wasn’t easy. This design is a free-form surface, i.e. a shape that does not have edges and consists only of curved surfaces.
In the beginning we questioned how the first version of the porcelain amplifier should me manufactured. You have to remember, during the firing process the porcelain becomes very soft, especially in the first firing. After multiple attempts, we finally found the perfect form for the amplifier. Despite have doubts during the process, we never gave up or lost hope in our idea.
Whoever believes to be something, has stopped becoming something.
Philip Rosenthal jr.
Blog Team: The quote comes from Philip Rosenthal jr. As a company, how do you interpret this motto today?
Julia: Philip Rosenthal jr. was a visionary. He lead his workforce and founded the studio houses (the Rosenthal shops). I understand the sentence as follows: Some people are satisfied with a certain status. They have arrived when they have found the right partner, the right city, the right way of life. They are satisfied with what they have and listen to their development. To want more. That was unthinkable for Philip Rosenthal: For him there was no arriving, no stagnation. We as a company are also constantly developing and looking for new challenges, especially in the context of exciting cooperation.
Blog Team: The Teufel x Rosenthal speakers are the world’s first porcelain loudspeaker. Our readers will want to know how they are manufactured. Can you tell us a little bit about the process?
Julia:On the basis of a plastic print, the two-part plaster mould is developed, which is later used in the factory. The first step is the casting: The form is filled with porcelain mixture, that’s made from kaolin, feldspar, quartz and water and is very runny. Through the casting the water is slowly drained leaving a hard outer form. The longer the mixture stays in the casting process, the harder and more resilient the Teufel x Rosenthal casing is.
You can learn more about the Teufel x Rosenthal in the video Computer Bild Test.
The real art of creating the speakers is removing the mixture from its form at the right time to achieve the perfect hardness and thickness for the speakers. The part of the process is the demoulding: The porcelain is removed from the hollow form and then spends two days in the drying chamber, to remove extra water. Before the firing process details are hand carved into the porcelain shell, ready for the technical components later. The porcelain is then heated up to 1400 grad in the oven, where it reaches its final hardness.
Finally the surface is then smoothed and sanded per hand. To engrave the controls and logo the amplifier is then sand blasted. The last part of the process is that each pair of speakers receive its logo. Each speaker is unique. That’s what makes this product so special.
Blog Team: Since standing still is not an option for Rosenthal, we have to ask ourselves which projects we can look forward to in the future? Can you tell us anything about them?
Julia: We recently created vases with a special outer design, which by back-lighting showcase a rare illuminated display. The effect receives different outcomes depending on it’s positioning. The vases will later also function as lampshades. We also cooperate a lot with universities, for example with the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences or the Burg Giebichenstein University of Applied Sciences in Halle. Interesting things have come out of this, because the students have a fresh look at porcelain as a material. One result, for example, was a porcelain fire detector that also functions as a carrier for a lamp.