You can’t talk about Danish design without touching upon the innovative world of Bang & Olufsen. Founded in 1924 by Peter Bang and Sven Olufsen, the company started out as simply a series of experiments in the attic of Olufsen’s parents’ home in Struer, Jutland, Denmark.
After opening, a number of successful technological developments followed, including a sound-recording system for movies. Bang & Olufsen then leapt to international recognition when they produced the Beolit 39 (1938), the first radio to operate on an alternating current rather than batteries.
When the company refused to collaborate with Nazi supporters at the end of World War II, the factory was burned down. Bang & Olufsen quickly rebuilt and continued producing, establishing themselves as one of the leading consumer electronics companies in the world.
In the ’90s, Bang & Olufsen decided to open their own speciality stores rather than go through retailers, as they had done previously. They continue to run these stores, while also having selected retailers for specific products, like their B&O Play headphones.
Thanks to Danish™, Scandinavia Standard was able to tour the Bang & Olufsen headquarters (called “The Farm”) and factory in Struer. While there, we got a look at not only the machinery behind some of our favorite designs, but also the latest addition to the B&O family: the Beolab 90 speaker.
The Beolab 90 is more of a concept design than anything else; it’s too big and too expensive to be a commercial success at 500,000 DKK for two speakers (and you need to buy two of them), but having listened to it, it’s really too bad that we can’t all have them in our homes. The sound is fantastic: clear and crisp with a strong but not booming base.
Though Bang & Olufsen has a larger factory that employs over 200 people in Czech Republic, they continue to operate their smaller factory in Struer as well. Walking around, it was wonderful to see innovation at the factory-level, such as their metal-bending machine that creates the outer cage for the Beolab 90.
Getting a chance to peek behind the scenes at one of our favorite Danish brands renewed our motivation for showcasing Danish and other Scandinavian designers. The amount of hands-on work that goes into every piece is inspiring and the quality of the end product is, ultimately, convincing.
Find out more about Bang & Olufsen