For Bang & Olufsen it may be the design of a product which sells it, rather than the product itself. But if there is no new idea, new function or new technology then the product is not made. However, when ideas do follow themselves through into production, then much is made out of the design. Bang & Olufsen and the concept of ‘Danish Design’ are nowadays inextricably linked with strict, uncompromising, almost painful purity with everything superfluous stripped away and the products appearing as a synthesis of functionality and aesthetics:
“Technologically almost everything is possible. To harness and subjugate technology to human needs – and create expressions which meet these needs and make dreams come true. That is Bang & Olufsen.”
Thus speaks Eigil Thomsen, director of Bang & Olufsen’s design and concept department. Not for the company’s development department, but for Idéland (Idea Land) which is the company’s design and concept department.
“We always start from the idea. A new product must always contain a new idea, a new function, an improved technique, a different way of doing things. If the idea isn’t there then why make the product at all?” Eigil Thomsen poses the question and then answers it in inimitable style:
“We never make a new product just to launch a new design. But we make a lot of the design when the idea is there.”
And Idea Land is a land of plenty. The ideas are often based on a new functionality, which again builds on further technological development. They may also be based on a new way of combining things – or maybe something else.
“Take for example when we decided to create a mobile loudspeaker with superb sound as the prime objective. When we had made the loudspeaker, we added a radio and CD player. And to create the perfect product we hid the antenna, which does not appear until needed. Just like on the most expensive cars, the antenna glides up and down by means of its own little motor. It became BeoSound 1.
“Bang & Olufsen is for connoisseurs of both technology and design who are willing to pay for perfection. But it doesn’t always mean paying the highest price. That was proved by B&O with the development of its most optimal loudspeaker so far, BeoLab 5, which set completely new standards for loudspeaker sound. Until Bang & Olufsen brought BeoLab 5 to market, sound freaks all over the globe had willingly paid double the price for specially built loudspeakers with inferior sound.
The keyword for Eigil Thomsen and his staff in Bang & Olufsen’s Idea Land is ‘freedom’.
"Technological development helps give consumers freedom. Wireless technology gives you freedom to place a music centre wherever you want. We developed it further with our BeoLink system which connects sound and image everywhere in the home. With the development of digital technology and the incorporation of for example hard disks as storage-medium in both audio and TV equipment, freedom becomes total. In the future, consumers themselves will decide where and when they want to listen to music, watch TV or see a film. The wireless and digital reality is just around the corner.”