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Retro 2021: Bang & Olufsen, design and sustainability

Founded almost a century ago, Bang & Olufsen has been able to demonstrate technological and design innovations over the years to bring together the challenges of the future and current needs… and received this fall for one of its loudspeakers general public a Craddle to Craddle certification.

In recent years, music and listening media seemed to have become inseparable: today the quality of the transmitter is just as important as the music itself. Founded in 1925, Bang & Olufsen understood this well. The Danish company, which began with radio transistors to arrive at prestigious sound modules, has adapted to the demands of the times, including televisions and electric shavers. But for Alexis Le Prado, Managing Director France at B&O: “The very DNA of the brand is sound.” Now diversified to be more adaptable to different activities (music, television, gaming, sport), the house, soon to be a hundred years old, has never stopped reinventing itself.

A committed design

If the company is characterized above all by its specialization in music, it also attaches great importance to design, to combine technique and aesthetics. An integrated design team most often collaborates with an external design agency in order to maintain a balance between preserving the brand’s design DNA and renewing its creations. In addition, B & O does not hesitate to develop projects with large houses, like Yves Saint Laurent or Berluti, for limited series. But whatever the collaboration, the group retains its own visual identity combining contemporary design and Scandinavian lines, all in noble materials putting wood in the spotlight. Cultivated in the north of Denmark, oak – whose constitution does not alter the acoustic rendering – is found (almost) on all the models. Raw, tinted, painted, it can also be colored according to the interiors of each client to adapt to the existing one.

Yves Saint Laurent x Bang Olufsen, ''Beoplay A1'' model
Yves Saint Laurent x Bang & Olufsen, ''Beosound Edge'' model by Anthony Vaccarello, limited edition

If the choice of wood is in tune with the times, the company has been using this material for its durability for a long time, unlike plastic which disintegrates and sticks over the years explains Alexis Le Prado. And the house is now more than ever committed to a sustainability approach, asking itself the question of deprogramming obsolescence and the repairability of its designs.

Cutting-edge technologies for high-end rendering

Indeed, under the design and seductive envelopes, is the nerve center of a sustainable reflection. The Beosound Level is the first compartmented enclosure that can be opened to replace outdated technological components. This novelty will allow the enclosure to be preserved for decades while remaining at the cutting edge of technology. This portable speaker was the first in the world to receive Cradle to Cradle certification this fall. But in addition to these systems allowing the manufacture of a sustainable product, B&O continues to explore the latest technologies allowing both optimal and immersive listening. Guide fins making it possible to orient certain notes towards a particular person, finesse of the module allowing the integration of the speaker into a bookcase are all new features that meet the requirements of an auditorium on the lookout for ever sharper sensations. As for the most iconic models such as the Beoplay A9 released in 2012, the company continues to market it while adapting internal technology every two years. Bang & Olufsen is thus a pioneering, design and technologically advanced company, at the service of listening to and feeling music.

Tom dufreix

Bang & Olufsen, ''Beosound Level Golden'' model