BEO.ZONE

Helge Frank Morthensen

Before the days when the word ‘design’ sprang to mind at the very mention of Bang & Olufsen, design protagonists such as Poul Henningsen (1894 - 1967), a very outspoken designer and architect, made it known very loudly that ‘design’ should be top of manufacturers’ lists when creating products:

“Is it fishmongers or potato wholesalers who produce these designs in their spare time?” wrote Poul Henningsen during Denmarks’ Radio Show of 1954, talking about Bang & Olufsen’s large and bulky Grand Prix 509 radiogramophone in particular.

Amongst the exhibits that year were the Grand Prix 509 radiogram and the Standard 509K. The products’ chief architect, WL Vindeløv, who had helped shape the appliances and was very proud of his work, was immediately offended by the harsh and ruthless criticism. But upon reflecting more of Henningsen’s criticism he turned his outrage into a recognition that Poul Henningsen was most probably right.

The incident was useful in that it gave rise to Bang & Olufsen announcing a new design competition in updating its existing Mini radio.

The competition was subsequently won by the Copenhagen architect Helge Frank Morthensen who - although was trained as an architect - was extremely interested in design. Morthensen had previously set up his own studio and was then employing six people. He had also spent time designing furniture for the Danish Bondo Gravesen company. The Mini Moderne 514K was the result of Moretensen’s design efforts.

Helge Frank Morthensen died in 1982. Morthensen undertook no further design work for Bang & Olufsen as the architect Ib Fabiansen from Copenhagen joined the company shortly afterwards, taken on with the task of designing its range of modular furniture. This was released on to the market about the same time as Helge Frank Morthensen’s radio. Following Fabiansen’s working commintment of around ten years, Jacob Jensen walked straight into the former designer’s footsteps.