Beautiful in itself?

Can something just be ”beautiful” in itself? Looking for examples I find my turntable below. But then I realise that the consequences of this product design were more interesting than that. The beauty is not only in its minimalistic brushed metal shapes, but also in its statement towards the ordinary.

Basically, the traditional modernistic approach to product design would be to find the essence of the product, reduce and apply as simple shapes as possible. The shapes should not tell a story but be ”beautiful in themselves”. In some good cases, if the design is radical, this leads to the interesting effect that the object becomes ”something else”. For example, when all the turntables on the market were expressing their technical functionality and features, Bang&Olufsen made this one:

The Beogram 1200 turntable from 1972, designed by Jacob Jensen.

It broke completely with the common expressions and as a consequence of this minimalistic approach, it became more of a piece of art, a sculpture, a large piece of modernistic silverware for your living room. Which by the way could play records. It became ”something else”. And it became part of the strategy that has made Bang&Olufsen what it is today.

There are still many product areas where you could simplify and minimalise, but with the current explosion of products, there is a large risk/chance/possibility that your design will refer and relate to something that has already been made. You cannot just do beautiful shapes, you will also tell a story.

I would say that in a future where design, marketing and branding will work even more closely, we will see more exciting, beautiful and meaningful objects. But still, those modernistic objects from the time when a shape was a shape, have a certain charm!

  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2. By Helena on mar 21, 2010 | Reply

    ”Beauty, like supreme dominion
    Is but supported by opinion”

    (Benjamin Franklin, 1741)

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