Soundwall combines speaker and painting

Artist Bisco Smith working on a Soundwall (Michael Vidoli)

Artist Bisco Smith working on a Soundwall (Michael Vidoli)

Aaron Cohen talked to artists whenever he was at a gallery. “What does your art sound like?” he would ask. Almost all of them knew instantaneously.

Now leading a new startup called Soundwall, Cohen is working to make this art/sound connection more clear to everyone else.

The Soundwall project was co-founded by Sven Coppom and David Hose, who Cohen knew. Cohen told Opportunity Lives that the founders originally wanted to “make a more beautiful wireless speaker.”

Essentially, a Soundwall is a large canvas that also functions as a high-quality wireless speaker. Every Soundwall is handcrafted in the company’s Colorado studio. Artists can sell their finished Soundwalls directly from the company’s website, or they can buy blank Soundwalls to paint and sell on their own.

The founders brought Cohen, a former startup CEO, tech expert, and NYU professor, on as Soundwall’s CEO last fall. “I hadn’t run a 10-person company in 15 years,” said Cohen. But he was up for the challenge.

One of the most important things that Cohen strives for is to create a “connected canvas.” Soundwall isn’t just a speaker company, it’s a company that appreciates and features artists in every aspect of the product. “My main interest was creating an art medium that blends sound and image,” said Cohen.

As such, artists are involved with every aspect of a Soundwall. Often, as they are painting, an artist will have a song or set of sounds in mind that inspire the image. They can then connect these sounds to each individual Soundwall. Using a mobile app, the buyer of a Soundwall can listen to the artist’s inspiration behind each work or play their own music through a wireless connection with the Soundwall.

When people hear the Soundwall for the first time, they often are confused by where the sound is coming from. “They think there’s a speaker behind there, but there isn’t,” said Cohen. “The entire thing is emanating sound.”

The “connected canvas” idea comes in because of the opportunity for artists to update the sounds on each particular Soundwall. For example, an artist could add a message or new song to a Soundwall even after it has been sold, giving the customer a direct connection with the artist on another dimension besides the painting hanging on the wall. One artist, Bisco Smith, creates art while listening to music that he composed. He then adds new songs every month for those who bought his Soundwalls to listen to.

Even though many of us don’t realize it, most artists already have a sound in mind for their paintings. “Artists hear their work,” said Cohen. There’s a reason musicians have album covers, said Cohen. Now artists have Soundwalls.

The Soundwall allows art to become a more immersive experience. Because we tend to look to where sound is coming from, now our eyes are naturally drawn to the painting on the wall – the painting that happens to be filling the room with sound.

“We’re making it substantially more fun and thrilling to own art,” said Cohen.

Published on Opportunity Lives