Novena Heirloom – speaker grill holes

A circular array of holes for the Heirloom speaker grill holes seemed like a pretty obvious thing when I first considered it. But the truth was a bit more complicated. It turns out that making such an array look right is very challenging. After a few runs at it, I flashed on a recollection of the iconic radio designs of Dieter Rams from the 1960s. Many of his radio and hi-fi designs utilize speaker grill holes with this round pattern.

Walnut rear panel with speaker grill
Western walnut rear panel with speaker grill

This German designer, whose body of work is said to heavily influence the designs of Jon Ivey and the Apple design team, had resolved the pattern for round speaker grill holes in a beautiful fashion. His design even appears in some of the promotional material from the time. It is a cleverly conceived quadrant system that produces a pleasing result that appears natural in spite of its very organized layout.

Walnut speaker panel with speaker holes and switches
Walnut panel with speaker holes and switches

With a modest modification, I used this round hole layout for the Novena Heirloom speaker grill holes.  I’ve begun referring to them in my notes and documentation as Dieter holes. They contribute nicely to the slightly vintage look I was after in the Heirloom design.

This video describes finding a method to successfully drill the speaker grill holes in the composite material created for the Heirloom laptop design.

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