I first heard of Bang & Olufsen in The Devil Wears Prada, when Anna Hathaway was brandishing a ‘giveaway’ phone (Just think: Manhattan-based companies give away thousand-dollar phones in loot bags or office perks – hashtag injustice, hashtag third world) that looks like a thin elephant tusk.
Although I liked this one better, the BeoCom 4.
Now, at first look, who would have thought it’s a phone? A cordless cylindrical beauty that comes in several solid colors. But between this and the one above, I liked the keypad in the former.
I learned more about B&O when Kanye West did his La Dolce Vita for XXL Magazine’s print issue, saying that he sometimes just go inside the store and look around (I’d do the same even if I’m stacking millions, the store itself looks very comely). Since I’m at the other side of the world, I’m doing my online ocular inspection and just gape at all the gorgeous aluminum. IKEA’s got nothing like this.
While I don’t fancy much of their circular designs, I love this BeoPlay A8 audio speakers for your iPhone/iPad or iPod that “offers wireless streaming of your digital music via Apple AirPlay”.
But I’m all for the lines, sides, and edges.
Look at this BeoTime clock.
Sometimes, when I look at these things, I forget that function matters too. I would love to have this even if it’s a busted and beyond repair.
What I noticed on most B&O products is that they do not occupy too much space. Much of them doesn’t have to be on the floor even (entertainment systems are mostly mounted on walls now). Although there’s always the risk that people who are not familiar with it might mistook, say, your $2,699 audio system as a harmless wall display.
This one boasts an “impressive stereo sound performance in one single unit designed as a cool piece of furniture”. And the thing’s wireless. Good lord Jesus.
But here comes the real thing:
“The basic principle is that a single line can describe the idea behind a design.”
– Torsten Valeur, designer for Bang & Olufsen.
Not only it’s beautiful to look at, image engineers (messiahs, if you ask me) “optimised image contrast down to the very last pixel to achieve the ideal balance of shadow and light… Adaptive Contrast uses incredible sensitive algorithms to enhance an image, revealing details in areas of the screen otherwise lost in darkness.” Damn. It feels like watching the galaxy unfold before your eyes (or at least that’s how I understand it).
Okay, this is probably the best reason why I am head over heels with the overall aesthetics of B&O: Mixed it with acoustics. Mix it well.
Of course, I cannot judge the quality of their sound equipment, but it would be a damn shame for it not to equal the design. According to their website, each loudspeaker is calibrated and tuned by hand. I don’t have to look it up to know it comes with a hefty price tag, but— just look at it.
“Bang & Olufsen design their sound equipment as beautiful objects in their own right that do not inordinately call attention to themselves.”
– Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 1978
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.
Lastly, although I have very limited knowledge when it comes to vehicles, one of my the best feelings in the world is singing inside your car and giving zero cares. There’s nothing like bad car speakers to ruin your mood (radio static not accepted either), and worse than janky wires and springs are coming out the dashboard.
One of my plans when I get to the US (soon!) is to visit a Bang & Olufsen store, closest from our CA home is the Pasadena store, maybe even just to gawk at from the outside. Or sneak in a demo – I’m eyeing the Beolab 14 demo.
I’m falling in love with its interiors – the fixtures are very much utilized while not appearing to be cluttered (even in the slightest). A combination of edgy and minimalist textures are well-placed. Some may easily dismiss it as the perfect bachelor’s pad, but it appeals to me very strongly. Imagine classy subwoofers (8-inch bass drivers) and wireless (I am particularly nitpicky with this one) speakers (called ‘satellite speakers’) adorning your room, minus the bulk. I enjoy watching my movies with a great surround system – we have a Bose surround set at home and I am pleased with the results. Imagine what these things can do!
Photos from Bang & Olufsen’s website