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Making the Shinola Runwell Part 1

On this “Throw Back Thursday”, we wanted to share the creation of the first Shinola Runwell in New Jersey. Originally, the partnership started with a bunch of guys excited to play music together while creating more American jobs. VPI and Shinola clearly had the same values, passion, and drive to move the industry forward. Eric Astor from Furnace Record Pressing and Livio Galanti from Shinola came out to visit VPI. After a lot of time spent at the VPI factory in Cliffwood, New Jersey, and at the listening house an idea started to come together. Shinola liked the simplicity, ease, and sound of a VPI Nomad (later to be re-named the Player). In fact, the owner of Shinola, Tom Kartsotis owns a VPI Nomad. During the evolution of the Runwell, we took apart a Nomad and considered the elements that made sense for the industrial design and that would appeal to a different audience.

Meeting with Shinola at VPI with John from Renaissance Audio, Seth from Soundstagedirect, and Eric from Furnace Records

Meeting with Shinola at VPI with John from Renaissance Audio, Seth from Sound Stage Direct, and Eric from Furnace Record Pressing

After establishing the perfect combination of VPI DNA and Shinola flavor we brought the concept design to our VPI wood worker to flesh out the prototype wood skirt, reminiscent of the HW-19. Our wood worker has been making components and wood skirts for VPI for over 20 years!

Of course, accompanied with the signature napkin like drawings by Harry for the VPI secret sauce. Many VPI hot products started from conversations and ideas that were translated onto napkins that would become the actual components.

Taking components from the VPI Nomad (Player), prototype parts, and the concept design for the Runwell, VPI technician Jan Kulyk went to work to breath life into this new adventure.

It wasn't long before Jan had the table finished and spinning.

After a quick listen at the VPI factory, we brought it over to the VPI listening house to have it run on the JBL Everest speakers. Our first blush reactions were very encouraging. So much so that we had Eric and Livio come back for some more listening and spirits!

Eric from Furnace taking a shot

Parallel with making a proof of concept, we worked with the Shinola ID (Industrial Design) team to get the curves and look of a Shinola, while keeping the engineering integrity of a VPI. While a turntable is made to reproduce music, it is important to also fit and be part of your home.

Industrial Design meeting with Harry from VPI and Will from Shinola at the VPI listening house

Initial prototype models were made and the look of the Runwell started to come together. This led to a trip for Mat and Harry out to the Shinola factory in Detroit to go over the devil in the details. But we couldn't visit Detroit without first getting a full tour!

Personally, we think we looked great in the Shinola factory scrubs! Not too sure about those hair nets! Their overall workforce was impressive! We met with and talked with Shinola employees on the production floor and all were proud and excited to be part of the Shinola family.

After our tour of their factory we went back to the Shinola conference room and went over a more polished ID sample. Eric worked diligently as a scribe in the back, recording design and engineering notes. This design meeting led to a fantastic take home back in Jersey which led to our next prototype which will be talked about in Part 2 of the making of the Shinola Runwell!

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