One thing I’ve come to realise having lived alone for a couple of years is just how important a role music – and sound in general – plays in my life.
I’m someone who has always appreciated the peace and harmony of silence but when you experience too much of it, silence can become isolating. I don’t think I’ve ever had my stereo on as much as I do now that I live on my own, and a huge reason for that is the reassuring comfort that background noise, chatter and melody bring to my otherwise deafeningly quiet home.
Up until now I’ve been streaming music through the tinny speakers of my bluetooth vinyl player but earlier this month IKEA asked if I would work with them on their AW19 Connected Home trend. As part of the trend, they sent me a couple of their new SYMFONISK bookshelf speakers, created in collaboration with audio-experts SONOS, and let me tell you, they are a total game changer!
Designed to democratise the home sound system, these stylish wifi speakers fit seamlessly into the home to enhance everyday life and integrate with the sonos system app. When my boyfriend first pointed them out to me in store, all eager and excited for us to acquire them when we moved in together, I had to admit it was the first time I’d ever been seduced by the sleek aesthetics of a speaker system. The SYMFONISK bookshelf speaker, which is approximately the size of two hardback books, marries IKEA’s design knowledge with SONOS’ expertise in sound and technology to create a product neither brand would have envisioned alone, perfectly placed to delight the technophile (him) and appease the décor addict (me).
As much as I’ve always been fairly pro technology in the home, finding smart products that successfully combine form and function has always been a bit of a stumbling block for me, so it’s great to see IKEA now forging ahead in the market and creating great products that not only tick both the style and substance boxes, but also the affordability box too. Of course affordability is totally subjective, but personally I feel that £99 for a collaboration between two prestigious brands creates a fantastic entry level into the speaker market.
While I’ve been able to add a couple of these speakers to my home – one in the living room and one in the bedroom – you only really need one in a small flat to truly enjoy the benefits of great-sounding music throughout. Available in either black or white, the bookshelf speaker really is a ‘put-anywhere’ device and has been built with the perfect dimensions for IKEA’s KALLAX storage range, with hooks and brackets available to turn it into an actual bookshelf which would be perfect to use by the bedside. You can ever hang it from a rail in a METOD kitchen cabinet! When I experimented with styling it in my home I found it really was a hugely versatile piece and am totally torn between whether it looks better lying flat – and almost invisible – atop the STOCKHOLM 2017 rattan cabinet in the living room, or as a bookend in my bedroom atop my MALM chest of drawers.
The Connected Home trend is a significant trend for AW19 at IKEA. As technology becomes more and more integrated in our homes, smart products that are stylish, functional and innovative are helping make life around the home that little bit easier by creating an interconnected hub that caters to our every need and desire. I love being able to simultaneously control the music I play in my living room and bedroom from an app on my phone, and am excited by some of the other smart home products IKEA have recently unveiled which I’d love to incorporate someday.
My current rental home has weird light fittings which mean I’m unable to make use of their latest smart lighting solutions (although I love the rechargeable portable VÄRMER led light I’ve added to my bedside table), but I’m definitely seduced by their new range of smart blinds, which can be controlled using a remote or the IKEA smart home app – pretty cool, huh? Imagine waking up each morning and at a touch of a button being able to open your blinds and let the light flood in and naturally aid your wake-up, whilst streaming a ‘rise and shine’ playlist through your bedroom speaker. Sounds like a pretty ideal way to wake up to me!
I’ve definitely started to appreciate the psychological benefits of listening to music a lot more lately, and not just as an aid for my morning routine. There was a time when I needed near silence to be able to concentrate on writing succinctly, but since starting to work from home I’ve found that the background noise of a calming instrumental playlist helps improve my cognitive focus and allows me to successfully work for longer periods of time without my mind wandering.
During my work breaks and at the end of the day I’ve found myself popping on an upbeat soundtrack to encourage me to get moving and unwind after hours of being sat behind my desk. Music therapy is widely acknowledged to be beneficial in reducing depression and anxiety, and I certainly find that the moment a peppy upbeat song comes on my mood often lifts and the rhythmic beat of a track gets me bopping along – and shaking out the stress of the day – in no time.
In the evening I’ve been trying to refrain from automatically popping the television on for company, and instead alternate my weeknight patterns so I have more of a varied routine. I might listen to a podcast whilst cooking and eating dinner, listen to a music show whilst soaking in the tub, or pop on a soothing jazz playlist whilst curling up with a good book on the sofa. I certainly think that varying my routine is helping me to stay motivated and more engaged as the nights draw in, when my natural instinct is simply to give in and get myself ready for bed at 9pm!
Who are your favourite bands and artists, and have you created any fantastic playlists you use either for work or play?
I’ve linked a few of my current favourites above, but would love to hear your recommendations – let me know in the comments..
This post is in partnership with IKEA, who provided gifted product for the purpose of this shoot. Fabric of my Life is a 2019 IKEA ambassador. All photography © Luis Leiva.