THE SIGHT OF SOUND

In a Home & Decor ex­clu­sive with Michael Anas­tas­si­ades, the Lon­don-based de­signer talks about his lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dan­ish lux­ury au­dio-vis­ual brand Bang & Olufsen, and the Beosound Edge.

Home & Decor (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

Lon­don-based de­signer Michael Anas­tas­si­ades col­lab­o­rates with Dan­ish lux­ury au­dio-vis­ual brand Bang & Olufsen on the Beosound Edge.

As an es­tab­lished light­ing de­signer who only re­cently started dab­bling in fur­ni­ture de­sign, Michael Anas­tas­si­ades was blind to the in­dus­try of au­dio-prod­uct de­signs prior to the Beosound Edge. “Ev­ery in­vi­ta­tion from com­pa­nies to work in a new field is a chal­lenge, es­pe­cially when I come from a com­pletely dif­fer­ent back­ground. I’m very grate­ful that I got this in­vi­ta­tion from Bang & Olufsen (B&O), be­cause it’s not easy for a com­pany to trust some­one who doesn’t have ex­pe­ri­ence in a cer­tain field. I par­tic­u­larly en­joy work­ing with com­pa­nies with a long his­tory, as I can study their legacy. I also an­a­lyse those prod­ucts that have be­come iconic and that peo­ple re­mem­ber the com­pany for, and B&O has quite a few of them through­out his­tory,” says Michael.

Are you an au­dio­phile?

Ab­so­lutely, I love mu­sic. How­ever, I did a hear­ing test about a month ago and it con­firmed that I have a hear­ing loss of about 30 per cent in both ears. I hear less than the av­er­age per­son and it’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause the doc­tors be­lieve this is con­gen­i­tal. I feel that this con­di­tion has made me more sen­si­tive to sound and it makes me ap­pre­ci­ate it bet­ter.

Tell us more about the de­sign con­cept of the Beosound Edge.

It was con­ceived as a prod­uct that is sim­ple in lan­guage and form. I wanted it to be time­less – with just the bare min­i­mum. If you look in my home, I al­ways hide my elec­tronic prod­ucts in the cup­board, as I don’t want tech­nol­ogy to take over. At least, this has been the story un­til now. This was a very good

start­ing point for me, and served as a chal­lenge for me to cre­ate a de­sign that I could leave out­side the cup­board.

The in­ten­tion was to cre­ate a very mys­te­ri­ous ob­ject – one that is so ab­stract that it doesn’t scream, “I am a speaker!” Not that I con­sider it a fail­ure if it is iden­ti­fied as a speaker, but I think it is nice to cre­ate “mag­i­cal” ob­jects whose func­tions are not so im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. The ma­te­ri­als used are also very much re­lated to B&O’s iden­tity. I used the alu­minium that many beau­ti­ful and iconic B&O prod­ucts are made of. The choice of black and alu­minium was a con­scious de­ci­sion right from the be­gin­ning.

What makes it stand out?

I de­signed this with the in­ten­tion to cre­ate anx­i­ety over its sta­bil­ity. I like that mo­ment of ne­go­ti­a­tion. It’s about cap­tur­ing that mo­ment of still­ness and bal­ance.

What were some chal­lenges you faced when cre­at­ing the Beosound Edge?

The big­gest chal­lenge was in achiev­ing the rolling mo­tion that’s in line with the prod­uct’s func­tion – vol­ume con­trol. That was the most in­ter­est­ing part which had been the make-or­break point of the project. It was very crit­i­cal be­cause it is about find­ing the right bal­ance. This fea­ture also adds so­phis­ti­ca­tion and I think it has been a great achieve­ment. How this was en­gi­neered is an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment on B&O’s front.

From the per­spec­tive of a light­ing de­signer, how do you ap­proach the de­sign of au­dio prod­ucts?

I think there is a par­al­lel be­tween au­dio and light­ing. Un­like fur­ni­ture, lamps live 80 per cent of their lives switched off. When switched on, it is a very dif­fer­ent sce­nario for the ob­ject, be­cause it comes alive and has a dif­fer­ent qual­ity and re­la­tion­ship with the sur­round­ings. Like­wise for speak­ers, when switched on, some­thing al­most mag­i­cal hap­pens, re­sult­ing in a to­tal dif­fer­ent per­cep­tion of the prod­uct.

Do you own any B&O prod­ucts?

Yes – a TV, which I bought even be­fore I met B&O. I bought it in 2012 when the Olympic Games were held in Lon­don. My brother and his kids came to visit and I was not able to get any tick­ets to the event, so I promised them that I’d buy a great TV so we could watch the Games to­gether. When I saw the prod­uct in the B&O store, I knew it was the only TV I could live with, as I didn’t like elec­tronic ob­jects in my house to be starkly vis­i­ble. What’s dif­fer­ent is the in­for­mal­ity of the de­sign. It sits on the floor and leans at an an­gle. It’s huge, yet many guests have asked me: “Why don’t you have a tele­vi­sion?” They don’t re­alise it is there and that’s great!

What is your take­away from this project?

I started strictly with light­ing de­sign and that was my only ex­per­i­ment un­til a few years ago, when I was in­vited to do other prod­ucts like fur­ni­ture. Mov­ing into au­dio, it has been a com­pletely new chal­lenge, so it’s like achiev­ing an­other area of ex­per­tise and reach­ing greater heights. It has been very re­ward­ing.

How have au­dio prod­ucts evolved over the years? Sound has al­ways been a part of en­ter­tain­ment for many years, and its qual­ity has be­come bet­ter with time. The big change now is with con­nected au­dio, where you live with sound in a dif­fer­ent way. The ideal way to live with mu­sic is to set the scene and at­mos­phere in your home and be able to lis­ten to mu­sic even when walk­ing around. The solution for that is con­nected au­dio. It is also made more con­ve­nient now, as you can stream from your smart de­vices. It is a great tran­si­tion – mov­ing from static and ca­bled op­tions to some­thing that is so dy­namic.

With the ad­vance­ment of tech­nol­ogy mov­ing so quickly, is it a con­stant chal­lenge for B&O?

Yes, our prod­ucts are gen­er­ally big­ger in­vest­ments and peo­ple ex­pect them to live for a long time. We al­ways try to de­sign them in a way where they are not just elec­tronic prod­ucts, but also beau­ti­ful items in their own right. We re­tain the qual­ity by of­fer­ing soft­ware up­dates to en­sure that prod­ucts re­main rel­e­vant. Even though a plat­form may not de­velop any fur­ther at some point, it’s still as good as when it was bought. It may not have the lat­est fea­tures but it still works as a great mu­sic provider.

Has the idea of mak­ing prod­ucts look fu­tur­is­tic and un­like con­ven­tional au­dio prod­ucts al­ways been B&O’s de­sign di­rec­tion? Yes, I think what is im­por­tant for us is not just to show­case tech­nol­ogy. It’s more about cre­at­ing items that look beau­ti­ful in your home. We like to cre­ate mys­tery and ex­cite­ment with­out nec­es­sar­ily dis­play­ing tech­nol­ogy. For ex­am­ple, the Beosound Edge wel­comes you by light­ing up when you ap­proach it and this makes it more per­son­able.

What is one of the con­stant chal­lenges when launch­ing prod­ucts?

It’s al­ways about econ­omy, aes­thet­ics and prod­uct per­for­mance. It’s also about cre­at­ing har­mony be­tween de­sign­ers, au­dio en­gi­neers and many other teams work­ing on the project, and this can get ex­tremely dif­fi­cult.

“We al­ways try to de­sign them in a way where they are not just elec­tronic prod­ucts, but also beau­ti­ful items in their own right.”

A com­bi­na­tion of spring forces and damp­en­ers keep the speaker well­cal­i­brated, re­gard­less of place­ment. Ini­tially de­signed as a speaker that sits on the floor, Beosound Edge soon found its place on the wall as a grav­i­ty­de­fy­ing state­ment piece.

BE­LOWBang & Olufsen’s head­quar­ters in Struer, Den­mark.RIGHT, TOP & MID­DLEA peek into the pro­duc­tion cy­cle of Beosound Edge at B&O fac­tory.RIGHT, BOT­TOM B&O fac­tory houses an acous­ti­cally treated lab where all au­dio prod­ucts are tested.

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