Topical Tables


Tables that create hyperlocal audio environments for different workstyles. Created by Hattie Stroud for LTK at Harvard GSD, Fall 2012


  1. The key to Topical Tables is the surface speaker. There are many different models you can get, and they can cost as little as $20. This kind of speaker sounds almost inaudible until you place it against a flat surface, at which point the entire material becomes the "speaker." You'll want to get one of these before starting the project.
  2. Pick a table or other furniture you want to mount the speaker to. Different materials and shapes produce will sound different, so experiment and see what you like. Many speakers have adhesive, but you may need to reinforce it to keep the speaker tightly attached for best audio quality. Think about how to place it where it won't get in the way or be tampered with.
  3. Choose some audio to play on the speaker. What kind of background noise helps people work? It might be a recorded lecture, wordless music, or the sound of a specific space. Experiment and collect user input to see what works.
  4. Think about signage. Does your micro-audio environment need to be communicated or can people intuit what it is?
  5. Try out multiple Topical Tables, each with a different soundtrack, so that people can gravitate towards what they like. Observe and iterate.