Braun’s 1959 LE speaker given a 21st century update

After a 28-year hiatus from consumer audio, Dieter Rams’ iconic LE Braun speaker has been given a refresh that stays sympathetic to the brand’s “glory years”.

Consumer products brand Braun will soon launch its reimagined LE smart speaker series, an updated version of Dieter Rams’ original 1959 design.

London-based consultancy Precipice Design has spearheaded the visual identity of the project, creating its packaging, iconography and digital assets.

“We had a challenge in that this was a relatively well-known brand name, but they hadn’t been on the market for a long time,” says head of brand at Precipice Nigel Beechey. “We needed to be able to convince people to buy this product, even if they hadn’t heard of Braun in years.”

To fix this, the team focused on telling Braun’s story, knowing its extensive history in the audio industry would give it authority on the market. “We knew our consumers would want the story of the heritage to prove we had the right to be competing in this market,” says Beechey.

This project, made under licence by Pure Audio, marks the first audio product from Braun since 1991. Prior to this 28-year hiatus the company produced some of the 20th century’s most influential audio equipment. Among the most recognisable were the 1956 SK 4, the first turntable with a clear plexiglass cover, and the 1959 TP 1, the first portable record player and radio.

“Once we had worked out the key was staying true to the history, the balancing act was around how much of the quite distinctive, modernist, Bauhaus look and feel should we pull forward, and how much only made sense at the time,” adds Beechey.

The team decided on a visual identity they believed could transcend time. “Our basic look and feel was classic Germanic/Swiss typography, quite neutral in its colour palette, and understated,” Beechey says, adding the look was never designed to look like modern competitors Apple or Sonos.

As part of the project, the team also created digital assets for the product. These included an all-new website and a dedicated app, which allows users to control bass and treble tone, stream music and connect to a Google assistant.

“The technology in this case was our canvas, and over that we layered the classic Braun styling,” says Beechey. He says; “The whole thing is relatively paired back because we wanted the user to focus on the sound – in the same way they might have done back in the 1950s.

“Braun have always been concerned by product experience, and now we can just do stuff better with the technology we have,” Beechey says. “But it’s the same philosophy, it hasn’t changed.”

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