Bang & Olufsen turns 90 – we look at 5 key designs (and its bargain logo)

Danish electronics brand Bang & Olufsen turns 90 this week. We look at five key product designs from the company’s history as well as the story of its logo – designed by a 16-year-old.

Eliminator

Eliminator radio component – 1925

The Eliminator radio component was the first product to be released by Bang & Olufsen and marked the company’s launch in 1925.

Bang & Olufsen was set up by two Danish engineers – Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen – who started producing radios in the attic of the Olufsen family manor, near the town of Struer in north-west Denmark.

The Eliminator was a component inside the radio which let the listener plug it directly into mains electricity – rendering batteries unnecessary.

Hyperbo

Hyperbo radio and gramophone – 1934

In 1934 Bang & Olufsen released the Hyperbo – an integrated gramophone, radio and speaker system.

The Hyperbo was designed by Peter Bang and inspired by Marcel Breuer’s B33 Bahaus chair. Bang had recently moved into a new house and wanted to design something that would fit into his new surroundings.

Unfortunately the Hyperbo was a spectacular commercial failure – only 40 were sold and today there is only one example remaining.

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Beogram 4000 – 1972

The Beogram 4000 record player was created by Bang & Olufsen designer Jacob Jensen and launched in 1972.

The design uses a double-arm system. A tone arm with a pickup is controlled by a photocell on the other, smaller, arm. The photocell reads the turntable to see if it has a record on it and which size. The turntable speed is then adjusted and the pickup arm is lowered at the right place.

The Beogram 4000 is one of Jensen’s key designs for Bang & Olufsen. Jenson started working for the company in 1964 and developed 234 of its products over 27 years. He died earlier this year aged 89.

BeoSound-9000

BeoSound 9000 – 1996

Launched in 1996, the BeoSound 9000 is a CD player that holds six CDs and also has an integrated radio. It was designed by British-born David Lewis, who lived and worked in Denmark.

The BeoSound 9000 is based on the constantly playing automatic record changed, but uses CDs instead of records. It features a silently moving CD sledge that moves from 1-100km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

In initial design had space for ten CDs but this was dropped in favour of the six-CD version, which could be mounted in eight different ways.

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BeoLab 90 speaker – 2015

This year Bang & Olufsen has released the BeoLab 90 speaker, developed with German design consultancy Frackenpohl Poulheim.

The speaker features tweeter, mid-range and bass drivers placed in multiple directions to provide 360º sound. Aesthetically, it is designed to have “no apparent visual front”.

Its form is based on a 65kg aluminium cabinet on a curved wooden base and was developed in consultation with Bang & Olufsen’s acoustic engineers. It is set to be available at the end of the year, priced at £53,990 per system.

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The Bang & Olufsen logo – 1930s

The original Bang & Olufsen logo was designed in the early 1930s by 16-year-old painter’s apprentice Henning Dahl Mikkelsen.

According to The Art of the Impossible – a study of Bang & Olufsen’s design history – Mikkelsen only asked for a 5 kroner fee for the design, but Svend Olufsen liked it so much he paid him 10 kroner.

Mikkelsen went on to be a famous cartoonist and created the Ferd’nand comic strip, which was syndicated internationally.


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The Art of the Impossible – The Bang & Olufsen Design Story, is published by Thames & Hudson priced at £34.95.

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