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grain design produces lasting art with elegantly integrated technology.

We create several limited editions per year. These pieces have been crafted as functional art for the modern home. They combine classical design and usability with the most salient elements of your modern world.

grain design is run by Richard Whitney, with assistance from Christine Sunu.

Our piece for 2018, the Alexaphone, is now available in the store.

If you have questions about grain design, please contact us or see the FAQ below.


FAQ: Alexaphones

Where do you get the telephones?

The Internet, antique stores, estate sales, collectors… wherever we can find beautiful design.

Aren’t you damaging antique phones?

We specifically look for nonfunctional telephones in poor shape to revive, and even then a lot of the effort goes into keeping as much of the original phone as possible intact. Our goal is to preserve the appearance, internal mechanical components, and electrical components, in that order. What you see, touch, and hear is as authentic as we can keep or recreate it.

What is involved in the reviving process?

Days of work. The telephones are inspected for mechanical and material problems then disassembled to address those issues. Re-forming, polishing, and rebuilding are approached with painstaking care and consideration to avoid damaging what may be fragile parts and surfaces. We even make the cords by hand to suit the requirements of each handset. Connecting the modern electronics to the old components takes a little reverse engineering and a great deal of creative engineering to fit into the limited spaces without modifying the mechanical components. Each telephone presents unique challenges, and each is essentially solving the problems anew.

Can It still hear me when the phone is hung up?

No. Each of the microphones is physically disconnected, so it’s not possible for the device to hear you. When you pick up the handset, that connects a single microphone. You can test it for yourself: say your watchword (usually “Alexa”) with the handset on the receiver and give a command. The LEDs won’t light up, and nothing will happen. We test this repeatedly on each phone.

Does the dialer do something?

We take care to preserve the dialers on the telephones, so that the original tactility is preserved. It does not dial phone numbers, and it is not hooked up to the electronics, but it’s incredibly satisfying to play with.

How do I set it up?

Plug it in and set it up with the Alexa app on your phone, just like you would an Echo. Phones may also come with specific setup and usage details, if they have hidden features.

Are you associated with Amazon in any way?

In no way whatsoever. These are pieces of independent art, and we have no affiliation with Amazon or Alexa.

FAQ: Reservations, Orders & Shipping

How does a reservation work?

A deposit secures your place in line. When a new phone is ready, the next person in line will be contacted with photos and details and can either purchase that phone or keep their place for the next one completed.

Why is there a deposit?

The deposit confirms that you’re serious, and justifies the extra overhead of offering phones to people individually. It also helps me accurately estimate how many phones we should be purchasing, and of what styles.

What if I want a specific phone?

If it’s one we’ve sold before, we may be able to source another. Some of these are fairly hard to find. If it’s one you have, send us photos and we’ll guess whether it’s possible. It never hurts to ask. Reach out to us.

What are the shipping costs?

If you’re in Los Angeles, you can visit our shop and receive the phone in person! Otherwise, shipping is included on orders within the contiguous 48 United States and if you’re in Alaska or Hawaii or outside the US there may be additional costs. Ask us, or place your order and we’ll be in touch.

 FAQ: Service

What if I have a problem with one of the phones?

Contact us. We’ll figure out, fix, or replace as needed.


Press inquiries for interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and higher resolution media can be made through our contact page or emailed directly to press @ and we’ll happily help.