Agnes Audio Speaker Is Brutally Honest About Its Architectural Inspiration

Audio speaker makers regularly draw inspiration from outside the realm of audiophilia, shaping cabinetry and cases after designs referencing everything from automobiles, skyscrapers, kintsugi-repaired Japanese ceramics, to handbags. But a church might be a first, as conceptualized by Philipp Emrich and his brutalist desk speaker, Agnes.

Bell tower speaker component of a two piece audio speaker system shaped after brutalist church, with two knob controls and perforated speaker cube on top. Entire tower speaker is floating in the air with a cord visible below.

Agnes’ Brutalist-inspired vertical and rectilinear form is a direct reference to the silhouette of the Gallery St. Agnes in Berlin. The former St. Agnes church was designed by architect Werner Düttmann and built in 1967 as a religious structure of “geometric austerity,” its spiritual sanctity guarded (if not entombed) by a sparingly embellished exterior. But since its remodel in 2013, its spiritual intent has evolved into one serving artistry – home to Johann Königs’ innovative art gallery.

The building’s uncompromising intent was clearly stated by Düttmann himself during its construction, describing his design as such: “The church doesn’t stand apart from everything else, it stands in the way.”

Two piece audio speaker system shaped after a tower and base, with knob controls and perforated "bell tower" speaker set across desk surface with computer, phone and keyboard nearby.

loose digital illustrations of two piece audio speaker system shaped after a brutalist architecture church's tower and base, showing scale in hand and component details.

Similarly, Philipp Emrich’s Agnes speaker concept projects a towering presence that cannot be ignored, even while turned off. The two-piece system comprises a tower capped with a 360-degree sound speaker (aka the bell tower), adjoined to a secondary bass unit to deliver the low end.

Two piece audio speaker system shaped after brutalist church, with three knob controls and perforated speaker cube on top. Entire speaker system is floating in the air with a cord visible below.

Agnes is designed to stream audio via AirPlay and Bluetooth, or by using a direct USB-C connection accessible from front of the speaker – also offering enough power to charge devices while plugged in.

Angled view of bell tower speaker component of a two piece audio speaker system shaped after brutalist church, with two knob controls and perforated speaker cube on top.

Top view of bell tower speaker component of a two piece audio speaker system shaped after brutalist church, with two knob controls and perforated speaker cube on top.

Emrich design operates around the tried and true tactile controls of a twin knob interface on the main unit, the top knob assigned to adjust the speakers 360-degree sound output according to optimal placement, and the lower knob controlling volume. A third knob on the bass unit is tasked to adjust bass.

Rear view of bell tower speaker component and bass unit both shaped after a brutalist church in Berlin, revealing back firing speaker perforations for bass and main speaker unit. A power cable is visible in the lower right end of the system.

To learn more about the Agnes speaker, visit philippemrich.com. And for more on the latest in design-forward audio gear, check out Design Milk’s speaker archives.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.

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