All my life I have been fascinated by old things. I have never strictly followed trends (I have had neither the finances not interest to do so), instead I have been drawn to the texture, history, and more than anything the possibility hidden in old things. For me there has always been a sense of adventure to uncovering an old device, long forgotten, and working out what purpose it may serve.
One of my earliest recollections of this comes from my local bicycle shop. By the age of 12 I already had a fascination with tinkering and building things. I would scour the local hard rubbish piles for a bicycle that might be faster or better to ride than my current one, or perhaps one I could repair and sell to someone. My local bike shop was run by a lovely guy who was a genuine bicycle enthusiast and hanging from the ceiling of his shop were a range of classic bicycles, including one long frame 3 speed Myer Speed dragster. Being born in the 1980’s I had never before seen such a bicycle, but I was instantly in love with it and had to have it. The cracked tyres, faded paint and split seat didn’t bother me. I saved up every cent I could until I was able to purchase the Myer from that shop. Not only did that bike see plenty of mileage at the time, years later it became my pamphlet delivery bike, and later still even made a guest appearance in a university project.
From here my love of old objects only grew. I obtained and repaired countless other bicycles, some dating back to as early as the 1930’s, carefully stripping layers of housepaint to uncover remnants of original handpainted lettering and pinstriping. As I reached driving age this interest persisted, and after owning a couple of 1970’s VW’s I ended up having a 1967 Volvo as my daily driver for nearly 10 years. At university I was lucky enough to find a course I loved in Product Design, which gave me a broad range of design and engineering skills in the development of products for mass manufacture, however my interests in repair and re-creation did not waiver. Throughout my studies I ran market stalls for handpainted clothing and upcycled furniture.
Fast forwarding to 2018, and at the start of this year my wife and I made the bold decision to leave the outer eastern suburbs that have been my home since I was born, and move to just outside of Geelong, to provide more opportunities for our baby daughter Elli, and to give us the opportunity to pursue our business dreams. For me, that business dream is all about second chances. It is about identifying beautiful, unloved old items, and using the skills learnt at university and in my subsequent jobs to turn those items into beautiful useful devices once more. I firmly believe in blurring the line between new and old, by developing products that meet all of the needs that a new product does, without the environmental impact. This belief is what has led to the Boe Vintage Bluetooth Speaker range.
Bluetooth speakers are a wonderful recent invention. Being able to listen to whatever you want, wherever you want, without being restricted to radio channels or attachment to large stereos is a great idea. Old bakelite and valve radios, on the other hand, are objects of beauty, but without a purpose in today’s world. They were made in huge quantities, in a myriad of different styles and shapes, but most no longer work, and those that do are now dangerous, with brittle wiring and ancient componentry. For the Boe Vintage Bluetooth Speaker range, I have taken these beautiful old radios, removed some of the obsolete and dangerous original electronics, and added only a little wiring and a small new integrated amplifier and Bluetooth receiver. The end result is a beautiful looking device that has all of the benefits of a new Bluetooth speaker, yet it has been made with far less environmental impact, as no case or speaker has been manufactured, and it has saved a vintage radio from ending up in landfill.
With Geelong’s long history and beautiful heritage buildings, I believe that I have found a perfect city to launch Boe. Our Vintage Bluetooth Speakers are available at Geelong Vintage Market on Mackey St. I have additional projects in the works that I look forward to sharing with you all in future. If anyone has an interest in developing products for their own business that focus on re-use, please feel free to get in contact, the more we can do to eliminate waste and bring new life to old objects, the better. You can find a fine example of our work at Renew Geelong.
Meet Ryan and BOE at the Geelong Business Expo Saturday 28th July 10-4pm at the Federal Mills North Geelong. Free entry. Humans in Geelong will be there too, make sure you say hi.
Story and photo supplied, sourced by Jacqui Bennett.