Core77 recently featured furniture designer’s Hemmo Honkonen’s series of audible cabinets. Honkonen writes on his website, “The cabinets are a study in mechanically produced sound, movement and interaction. Each cabinet has its own sound that is triggered by opening and closing the doors.”
You can see photos, watch – and listen – to the doors being opened, here. Sounds include a triad, bass triad, cymbal (which is actually fantastic if you want to shock unsuspecting snoopers) and scale. (Oh, and there are audible chairs, too!)
A fun party trick when people visit perhaps, but while reading (and listening) to all of this I was reminded of something my grandma once said. For years she would grow weary of the sound of her screen door being slammed, open and shut, all day long, especially with six kids during the summer months. And then? Once all the kids had moved out, she missed that wooden racket.
There’s an antique dresser in my childhood bedroom, now a guest bedroom. A couple years ago my mom asked me to get something out of it and as soon as I pulled the drawer out, and heard that familiar swish, and felt that familiar hitch in that one spot that requires you to lift up just a bit, I felt like a teen again, looking for one of my T-shirts.
Steve Shanesy turned a large maple bowl for my husband and me as a wedding gift and anytime anyone in our family hears the familiar thump it makes when it hits our dining room table they know we’re having a salad, one of the hundreds that bowl has held (if not more).
Every dog and child knows the sound of a front door opening when a parent is returning home and most kids know someone is hiding under the cellar door when they hear that particular bang during hide-and-seek.
I know the sound that the fallboard makes when someone is about to play the piano, and when it’s late at night and I hear that familiar kitchen floorboard creak, I know that someone is hungry (or sneaking a treat). I know someone is cold and looking for the wool blanket when I hear a struggle with the latches on our antique bedroom trunk, and I know someone needs a pen or a pencil when I hear the lid on the old wooden pencil box slam shut. I know someone is dragging our stool instead of lifting it when I hear a particular rasp across our pine floor and I know someone is starting up the mantle clock again when I hear the delicate open and close of that small, sweet wooden door.
These are the sounds I love.
— Kara Gebhart Uhl
13 thoughts on “The Sound of What We Make”
Incredibly cool in so many ways! And no sneaking into those cabinets, either!
Thank you for posting the links, but also for your very thoughtful reflections on how evocative the sound (and other sensory input) of familiar objects can be.
very good – I built a screen door for our house last summer… So far the most major criticism from my spouse is – “it doesn’t sound right” . I will hide this article so she doesn’t get confirmation of her belief that how a piece of furniture sounds is an important attribute.
I’ve never thought of sounds like that i just took them for granted.
Generally I like everything off, no radio or tv even my phone is muted.
Perhaps it was subconscious because I want to hear what’s going on around me.
I once told Sam Maloof his rockers were defective because they didn’t creak when rocking. His response was that while true his rockers didn’t creak the wood floor they should be on should creak instead.
Delightful essay, universally true. Thank you.
That’s really nice, thank you! A fine reading to start my day.
Wonderful. Thank you.
What a wonderful post and idea. Thank you for sharing.
When I was in high school I discovered that my mother knew I was home when one of the steps to the second floor creaked. One night I deliberately skipped that step. The dressing down she gave me is one I remember to this day. Never skipped that step again.
Way cool! What an interesting idea. I also love the squeak of an old door being opened…
Thank you for eloquent writing that draws our attention to symphony of sound inside our homes.
Very nice Kara.
… Now the doors need to be finely tuned in more than just fit. Otherwise it would drive me absolutely bonkers.
What a delightful article! We react to sounds and smells, especially from our childhood experience, these transport us back in time.
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