Nature's Best

This playful prototype creates unique soundscapes inspired by the forest.

Nature's Best

This playful prototype creates unique soundscapes inspired by the forest.

Here: What does the WaoBox do and what gave you the idea?

Jeremy MacDonnell: WaoBox are ambient sound machines. They allow a user to create soundscapes inspired by the forest. My final year project was a pretty open brief, so I wanted to merge web design with my love of making music. I also wanted to make something; after three years of digital design, I wanted to create a physical object. A driving sentiment for me when designing the interface was that the user should be somewhat unaware of what sounds will be activated. Users then create random compositions with a playful interaction that’s not complicated or distracting.

H: We love the aesthetic. What drove the way it looks?

JM: I’ve always loved the look of audio gear and its inherent aesthetic. There is a rich visual language in electronic music hardware; from 1980s synths to modern brands like Teenage Engineering that really appeals to me. I wanted to honour this look within the technical side of a WaoBox; however, they are not technical machines. They are meant to be accessible and for everybody. So, I decided to introduce a mid-century-inspired design aesthetic to make something that could sit comfortably alongside other homeware products. Dieter Rams and his work for Braun was also a huge inspiration for the project.

H: You have a degree in design and have studied audio engineering. How are music and design related?

JM: Yeah, audio engineering definitely helped out on this project. There are certainly some parallels with creating music and design work, particularly with the technical aspects like mixing a track or writing code. That said, I tend to approach the two fields in quite different ways creatively.

H: Any plans to commercialise it or will it remain a prototype?

JM: Right now, it remains a prototype. I would love to come back and revisit it one day.

H: What else are you working on?

JM: I’ve just finished designing and building a website for Tāmaki Makaurau artist John Reynolds ( which was a lot of fun. I’ve recently moved to New York, so right now, I’m just trying to focus on updating my portfolio haha – but fingers crossed, I’ll get to be a part of some amazing projects here.


By Jeremy MacDonnell


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