Google Gets Crafty

The OnHub Makers Series turns the boring wireless router into a functional piece of art.

A Wi-Fi router worth displaying in the middle of your living room?

That’s the idea behind Google’s new On Hub Makers series, for which the company tasked artists in dozens of disciplines—rather than engineers—with creating bespoke cases for that pedestrian household gadget. The results range from sculptural papier-mâché by rising star Maya Freelon Asante to a laser-cut wood Slinky design from Los Angeles–based husband-and-wife team Mimi Jung and Brian Hurewitz. (Google’s router is slim and round, like a tube rather than a box.) “The one thing you need a router to do is provide good connectivity,” says Ben Brown, On Hub’s design lead, “but when you hide it, you only get half the signal strength.”

Making them beautiful, therefore, is as much about function as it is about form. According to Brown, the few artists who turned down his offer to design a router cover only did so because of limitations on timing or materials; metals, for instance, could interfere with a Wi-Fi signal. But the Makers series is just the beginning. Google is now open- sourcing its design files so that CAD users anywhere can create their own (high-speed) living room accessories.

All Stories