Bang & Olufsen, perhaps the most prominent designer brand of cutting-edge audio products, has just released their 2007/2008 Collection catalog. While the brilliant ground-breaking BeoCenter 9000 along with its variants are long gone, there’s plenty to admire from the BeoCom 4 to EarSet2. Most noteworthy about the catalog, one half is the new 57 page B&O Magazine.
B&O Magazine features a variety of art and music articles that to some extent incorporate Bang & Olufsen products.
Sometimes their products are the centerpiece, as in Theater of Dreams where “Designer David Lewis tells Paul Clements where he got the inspiration for the BeoVision 7“. Essentially an ad piece, it nonetheless imparts interesting product information. “Switch it on and the LCD screen turns and tilts toward the viewer (if it’s on a motorized stand or wall bracket). Automatic Picture Control technology, means the picture on the screen adapts to the room’s changing light conditions.”
Other articles have a less direct relation to their product line. Ways of Seeing observes how “Music is a big factor in helping the illusion of the film come to life.” Bruce LaBruce for example notes “Music works when it’s at odds with the visuals. Stanley Kubrick was the master at using unexpected music that might not at first seem to support the scene – as when he used Singin’ In The Rain to accompany a brutal beating in A Clockwork Orange (1971).”
For the article, The Color of Sound, B&O “asked three illustrators to listen to their favorite track on Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 5, then decorate the iconic speakers to reflect what their mind’s eye saw.” The resulting art adorning the futuristic speakers, transforms the item from a device with arguably limited aesthetic appeal to a new age artistic sculpture.
These short pieces are complemented by an equally abundant array of longer-form stories. In Inner Vision, Mike Burgess interviews chief designer David Lewis regarding the new Beo5 remote, its three year development and how its design evolved based on a “joint Bang & Olufsen and NASA research project into sensory deprivation.” Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd talks “about how he plays with color and, in the process, our emotions” in the four page piece, Shades of Emotion, while music Producer Tony Visconti reminisces on Bowie’s Berlin Years.
The highlight feature is Paradise Found by Cristóbal Martinez. Paradise Found offers an inside glimpse into the development of starchitect Frank Gehry’s first hotel design, Marques de Riscal, located in the Spanish town of Elciego, 75 miles south of Bilbao. The hotel’s bold “dancing” design would usually fail to integrate into the surrounding urban landscape, but this is defied with the use of “honey-colored Spanish sandstone specially sourced to harmonize with Elciego’s monumental church”. Such careful material usage extends to the “pink and gold-toned titanium – colors that symbolize the red and white wines produced by the Riscal Vineyards.”