10 Most Unusual Piano Designsby Elizabeth Alli
From the ornate and opulent piano designs of the 16th century to the clean and traditional lines of today’s classical grands, the following list of 10 envelope-pushing creations fall somewhere in between. These most unusual designs range from the beautiful to the bizarre and are ranked in order of eccentricity and playability.
Bosendorfer Porsche Design
First on our list is the Porsche Grand Piano. While not the most eccentric in terms of appearance, Porshe’s collaboration with Viennese piano manufacturer Bösendorfer offers the traditional grand piano curves, sound and touch, augmented by the clean cool, lines and sleek embellishments of the luxury car brand.
The lid, which operates via a gas spring mechanism, is made of a lightweight high-tech honeycomb material and closes flush to reveal clean, sexy and tapered lines.
The piano also features a cover/foldout music desk made of aluminum and two discreetly hidden side panels that slide in or out to allow for adjustments in volume.
The Key Between You Piano
Yamaha’s ‘The Key Between You’ piano is another fascinating innovation. This design, envisioned by Yves Plattard features ample seating and is intended to create an intimate and social environment around the player. With over 50 coats of high gloss paint I can’t be sure of it’s sound or playability but, it’s certainly a worthy canvas for a spread of sushi or shots.
Chichi the Rocking Piano
Our next piano design really rocks…literally. ‘Chichi’ as it’s fondly named, is the creation of UK based cabinet designer Sarah Davenport. Inspired after attending a furniture show in Milan, Sarah took on the task of creating something moving and memorable. “”I was frustrated with the lack of soul I found in the majority of designs whilst out there so I set out to create a design that could speak” says Davenport.
The piano itself which is a standard baby grand from the 1900’s is enclosed by a mirror finished, veneered Canadian Rock Maple and is the first of it’s kind with the ability to gently rock the player as it’s played. After it’s debut in 2007 at Designer’s block in London, the piano spent a few years on display for all ages to play and experience. It now resides at Croyden Campus of Halton’s Riverside College and is used in the school’s performance art studies.
M. Liminal Model
Inciting the spirit of the ocean, the M. Liminal piano by Italian manufacturer Fazioli in collaboration with NYT Line and Phillippe Gendre is the perfect marriage of modern design aesthetic and fine engineering. The instrument which is nostalgic of the sea balances an organic nature with bold lines and shapes.
The high-contrast of the red soundboard against the black cast-iron frame creates a sense of motion and excitement while it’s overall shape echos the wave-like peaks of a tumultuous ocean.
The piano, which rests on a metal base is encased in natural wood and coated in a sound deadening paint. A transparent music stand and distinctly contoured lid make this unique instrument appear as though it’s ready to set sail.
Suspension Grand Piano
This unusual design comes by way of German piano maker Seiler. With their 155 year lineage and world renown craftsmanship, Seiler is also known for pushing the boundaries of contemporary design. The Seiler Limited Edition Suspension Grand with it’s bridge-like lines is undoubtedly a stunning piece of architecture, but what about it’s sound?
Little is known about it’s acoustic properties or the materials used to craft the instrument, one can only conjecture a mixture of metals and woods although, with only 4 ever produced, Adamantium might be a fair guess too.
Continuing the trend of pianos you can eat off of, this beautiful understated creation by designer Georg Bohle, is crafted from smooth oak wood and is designed to serve two purposes while taking up minial space. Lift the tabletop/lid to expose a full, 88-key electric piano and reveal a drawer to hold sheet music or other items.
The Hydra Piano
Inspiration for the Hydra Piano came to designer Apostol Tnokovski while watching a Lady Gag concert on television one night. Unpleased by the aesthetic and conceptual contrast to which her traditional grand piano conflicted with her other-wordly on-stage universe, Apostol set to work on designing an instrument worthy of the Lady’s eccentricity.
The concept which is heavily influenced by the mythological 7-headed sea monster of the same name features languid flowing lines that create the effect of the piano almost melting away from itself. It’s high gloss curvatures and fin-like lid, evocative of a living sea-bound organism, make the instrument at once magnificent and terrifying.
While Lady Gaga herself is yet to comment on or incorporate this inspired creation into one of her performances, we agree it is clearly reminiscent of it’s muse.
Avant Grande Pegasus
Looking like something that crash landed from Krypton, the Avant Grande Pegasus, which is based on an original Coloni design by Schimmel, has been reimagined by architect Daniel Libeskind. This uber-eccentric instrument stands at a staggering 5 meters long with sharp jutting peaks and silvery inlay. The piano which seems almost too epic for even the Star Wars set has found it’s perfect home in the newly designed Michael Lee Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Bosendorfer Audi Design
The acoustical construction remains untainted and is everything exceptional that has come to be equated with the Bosendorfer name. An even deeper richness and projection of the bass is created by it’s closed rim side which also lends to it’s extreme stability.
The Bosendorfer Audi Design Grand Piano, made its world debut at the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt, Germany in celebration of their 100th year anniversary. Since it’s unveiling, the instrument has been well received by musicians and design enthusiasts alike.
Continuing the tradition of luxury car and instrument maker collaborations, when “The Sound, Which Touches” meets “Truth in Engineering” the result is one sexy and luxurious piano. Perfect in both form and beauty, German automobile manufacturer Audi collaborated with Viennese piano manufacturer Bösendorfer to create this opulent instrument imbued with tradition and innovation.
Taking a cue from the smooth lines and sleek stylings of the audi sports cars, it’s pleasing aesthetics are owed greatly to the custom Audio colored cast iron frame, intarsia polished stainless steel lettering and continuous sloping lid. Virtually hingeless, this unique, almost seamless appearance is aided by a circumferential round bevel and set in lid.
The Schimmel Pegasus tops our list at #1, not only for it’s eccentric design but also for it’s powerful beauty and craftsmanship. More closely resembling a starfighter than anything from the Steinway gallery, the Pegasus, created by world-renowned Italian designer Luigi Colani and also the inspiration for our #3 entry, is a remarkable piece of hand-crafted artistry and innovation.
Boasting an impressive set of features including an ergonomically curved keyboard (that encompasses 7 1/4 octaves), a key assembly composed of 10,000 pieces, put together and regulated by Schimmel’s own master craftsmen, and over 200 strings under a total tension of 176,520 newtons.
The electrically operated hydraulic lid with “soft close” system allows the player to control the amount of desired projection, while a tri-dimensionally formed and curved soundboard creates a highly efficient resonance system. The fully-adjustable integrated leather upholstered stool is extendible in width, height, and distance to the keyboard and is comparable to being behind the wheel of a luxury sports car. The hard-wearing professional lacquer finish seen in black, white and red all combine to result in 1279 pounds of
breathtaking and futuristic elegance.
But this is more than merely a list of tech specs as this revolutionary design claims to allow for the player to actually perform to a higher level with less effort, and far more flawless execution than traditional piano designs. The Pegasus was produced about 10 years ago in a limited run, claiming owners such as Lenny Kravitz, Eddie Murphy and Prince.
As Luigi Colani himself stated, “Nature creates perfect designs. Straight lines do not exist in nature. That’s why I believe in bio-design which uses a vocabulary whose inspiration comes from organic shapes with their violence and sensuality.”
Indeed, the Pegasus is truly an inspired and eccentric creation.