What’s the first thing you do when you come across a speaker made out of cow dung? Naturally, you sniff it. And that’s exactly the reaction that follows Adhi Nugraha’s COWKÄ Speaker.
At a time when top picks of sustainable materials still lean heavily towards upcycled plastic, for the Lembang-based researcher and designer, he only had to step outside his home to see (and smell) another promising alternative: cow manure from nearby farms.
Working together with fellow researchers at local R&D collective Kick Your Butt and Institut Teknologi Bandung where Adhi is a product design professor, the project stretches the potential of, well…poop. Gathered by the bucket, fresh manure is first sanitised, pressed and dried before being mixed with waste cigarette filters and adhesive glue to resemble a paper-mache-like pulp. Applied on a 3D-printed mould, the cast is sanded by hand and coated with finishing spray once fully dried.
Available in three different styles, the silhouette and colour of the speakers point back to their origin. A four-legged speaker with two vertical eyes. A dark brown-speckled build that resembles a cow’s udder. And each comes with a built-in Bluetooth speaker and a micro USB charging port.
Modern in design with a bamboo handle, the COWKÄ 02 speaker looks at home at your work desk or living room. The smooth yet hay-like surface is set to be a conversation starter on nights when you’re entertaining at home and guests inquire where you got your speaker from.
Beyond the initial ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and rounds of sniffing, the discussion is also an opportunity to talk over Adhi’s long-term goal. “We’ve now taught women in the village the craft as well, so as well as minimising waste in the area, we’d like this project to also provide an economic return for the farmers and families,” he explained.
When it comes to the audio quality, Adhi still considers it a “work in progress. In the beginning, we didn’t set out to make speakers. That’s just the byproduct of this material exploration.” The ongoing project has also yielded a series of lamps and stools. Now to everyone’s curiosity, how’s the smell? It’s earthy, reminiscent of damp grass and soil just after it rains. The rest is up to your imagination.
COWKÄ 02 Speaker by Adhi Nugraha Design — IDR 1.850.000 available at Jiā by OCK Canggu Store. Jl. Danau Batur gg. Mangga 8 No. 3