Braun Enlists Virgil Abloh To Rethink Dieter Rams’ Famous Stereo System
By Mikelle Leow, 15 Mar 2021
Image via Braun
To commemorate its 100th anniversary, German electronics brand Braun roped in Off-White CEO and Louis Vuitton men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh to refresh the iconic Wandanlage stereo system designed by Dieter Rams.
Rams, the company’s then-head of design, helped pin Braun on the industrial design map in 1965 with his artful yet functional array of wall-mounted audio products including speakers, a radio tuner, and tape player.
Abloh, a notable designer of these times, made sure to extend Rams’ vision of “functional art” with his revamp by giving the stereo system a chrome sheen, so it could double as a mirror or reflect viewers’ perceptions of it. “Some might see a chrome surface and associate it with hip-hop music, while others might think of modernist designers from the mid-century and their products,” Braun industrial designer Ben Wilson told Design Week.
The special-edition Wandanlage also sports typography identifying the system’s buttons and dials.
The core of Wandanlage, however, remains. It is powered by the same Rams-designed technology and the workings of the original hi-fi audio from 1965.
Evidently, enlisting Abloh to rework a well-loved product is a risky choice, but the brand seems ready for controversy. Wilson told Design Week that—contrary to the possible belief that “this object goes against what Braun is about”—like the original Wandanlage, the reimagination serves a new generation and aims to spark conversation. “It’s going to raise some eyebrows in the design scene and that’s exactly why we’ve done it,” he acknowledged.
A lesser-known fact about Abloh is that he has a background in civil engineering and architecture, which only strengthened Braun’s confidence that he could take on this ambitious project. Abloh is also familiar with “[changing] as little as possible while still making a huge impact,” said Wilson.
In the brand’s research, it found that Gen Z consumers are especially concerned about sustainability. Braun and Abloh’s solution to this is longevity—more specifically, a stereo system with hardy materials built to last “for the next 100 years.”
“Designed to last is the new sustainable,” the company revealed on Instagram. “More than half (56 percent) see it as a good-quality design that lasts.”
Virgil Abloh has partnered with Braun to reimagine the classic Dieter Rams-designed Wandanlage stereo system, first brought to market in 1965— Design Week (@Design_Week) March 12, 2021
Here's how it went: https://t.co/c6xNVdoQ3K pic.twitter.com/gT8dIGGkeF
[via Design Week, images via Braun]
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