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Routers are black boxes in every way. This redesign makes them a sculptural centerpiece

Giving the mundane a chance.

Routers are black boxes in every way. This redesign makes them a sculptural centerpiece
[Photo: courtesy Elsa Sier]

Routers are ugly. Sure, there have been some attempts at sprucing them up: Google Home released decorative coverings last year, and there was this tall, y-shaped design and these routers that look like brightly colored satellite dishes. But for the most part, they’re still just an out-of-place hunk of plastic on your mantel.

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A smart new solution from a recent grad at the Design Academy Eindhoven challenges that. Elsa Sier designed a router that you’d actually want to leave out, and not hide between the couch and the wall like I do.

[Image: courtesy Elsa Sier]
Called Wired, the router has an organic, amorphous shape, and, unlike the harsh plastic exteriors of typical routers, this one is made out of a tactile ribbed knit, with just one wire to connect to a WLAN outlet, says Sier.

[Photo: courtesy Elsa Sier]
While the shape is friendly and unique, an additional innovation is in the function of the router itself. The router can morph, revealing a bright color in the interior rib of the knit, to signal that the device is connected or that there’s a weak signal. When the device connects to a Wi-Fi network or your laptop, the base expands into a bulbous protrusion to reveal yellow in the interior rib of the knit. When there’s a slow connection, the top of the device expands to show a red interior knit.

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It’s a clever way to turn a mundane necessity into a playful centerpiece. The router was part of the 2020 Design Academy Eindhoven Graduation Show, and, unfortunately, it’s just a prototype. But to learn more about Sier’s work, go here.

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About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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