Designer Harri Koskinen

“It is the dream of the speaker manufacturer to make a speaker shaped as a ball. This way, sound waves are free to flow. The rectangle that is curved is optimal for the acoustical use of space.”

Designer Harri Koskinen looks at his first design for Genelec, the 6040A, in his studio in Helsinki. The room is filled with iconic products by the versatile designer, such as the Block Lamp that is in the collection of MoMa, Iittala’s Art Works – a collection made of glass, and the Sofabed studio couch. Koskinen has recieved many respected awards. One of the most significant is the world’s biggest design award, the Torsten and Wanja Söderberg, in 2009.

“This speaker is sculptural. It has a softness and it is chubby, the plastic appearance fascinates. Also the aspiration for clarity and a simple shape is there.”

Koskinen explains how in the 6040A the amplifier is located in the stand, itself an integral part of the construction. This unconventional solution for Genelec brings the centre of gravity lower and on the other hand leaves more space for the drivers in the enclosure.

Harri Koskinen met Ilpo Martikainen in 1999. “Ilpo had a bright mind. He saw that the problem with Genelec speakers was making them stand out from others. Even though the quality was the best in the world, the products looked the same as others. We came to the conclusion that it was worthwhile considering an alternative. Ilpo also explained the principles of the acoustic world, and he did it very well.” Genelec had used die-cast aluminium in a previous model. “I grasped the potential because it is a very sympathetic material for a speaker enclosure. It is easy to shape and it is also very stiff which means it doesn’t resonate much.”

The idea of introducing an entirely new shape for Genelec monitors was met with some resistance within the company, as the team wondered what the popular reaction might be. Yet slowly the rounded shape came to be accepted, not least because the acoustic measurements it produced were astonishing. In 2000, Harri Koskinen was invited to stage his first design exhibition in Tokyo. Ilpo Martikainen was excited: the new monitors had to be there! “They weren’t yet functional, but they were exhibited for their aesthetic value,” the designer recalls.

The Genelec 6040A was launched in 2001. It was introduced in many international design publications and its success spurred an ongoing collaboration. In 2004 the 8000 series was introduced, while the 5040 subwoofer, designed by Koskinen, won the Fennia Prize Grand Prix award in 2009.

In the spring of 2017, Genelec introduced a new three-way coaxial family named The Ones. Again, the advanced design by Harri Koskinen was acknowledged with a Fennia Prize.

“Aesthetics, ethics and ecological values are built into me,” he says. “The product is done well, and it is made to last long into the future.”

Koskinen finds endless inspiration in the creation and conception of new ideas. “When we begin to design a new product it is very important to understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. The process of designing the new product is a balance of considering different options based on those questions.”

For Harri Koskinen, music takes up a large portion of his free time – a crucial part of his work in understanding and designing speakers.