For the occasion of Braun’s 100th anniversary, American designer Virgil Abloh revisits the brand’s iconic wall-mounted HiFi system – The Wandanlage.

The German company has joined forces with Virgil Abloh, one of the most renowned names in industrial design today, to update its timeless audio system for a new generation of audiophiles. Technology has evolved significantly since the famous Dieter Rams designed the original hi-fi wall unit in 1965. Rams was a head designer of Braun’s design department until 1995. Under his direction, the German company introduced many novelties in the world of audio. His designs even inspired many recent devices, notably Apple products.

Chicago designer and musician Virgil Abloh, who currently serves as the artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear and CEO of his Milan-based fashion label Off-White, had a big challenge before him. He carefully analyzed the original Ram’s design trying to answer the question of how to bring an object of iconic form into modern times retaining its functionality and timeless design quality. What should be updated while maintaining Braun’s core values that good design is built to last? “As a creator, I continue to question how art is perceived in today’s culture. ‘Functional art’ is a lasting legacy of the enduring power of good design that is simple, useful and built to last,” says Abloh.

The original Wandanlage featured a control panel, tape recorder, and two speakers and was considered the best audio of its time. The classic piece was a statement both in the performance and artistic sense. Abloh decided to honor it, respecting the practical, honest, and elegant minimalistic design. The idea was to retain the core of the Wandanlage while making the 2021 version beautiful and functional for the next 100 years. Abloh introduced a subtle aesthetic change with new material, keeping the original clear form that follows the function, components, and audio technology. The major change in the re-imagined version of the so-called “functional art” is the use of chrome. Chrome has been used as a material in industrial design for the past century, and it is associated with the modern world and fast-moving culture. Abloh chose it intentionally to make the Wandanlage, Reimagined in keeping with today’s time and tastes, more modern if you will, while ensuring its timeless position.

Virgil Abloh explained his artistic inspiration for the project in a short film shot at Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. The choice of place is for a reason, we would say, since both Braun and Abloh embrace Mies’ modernist ethic and aesthetics defined in the well-known phrase “less is more.” Make sure you give it a watch.

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Asja Nastasijevic is an Art Historian and Art Writer living in Paris, France. She holds a MA degree in Art History from the University of Belgrade and an MA in Art & Cultural Management from the University of Turin. Over the years, she worked as an art gallery assistant, art writer, editor, and content creator for various art-related and design-related magazines, galleries, and online marketplaces. When not writing and researching, she leads art history tours in Paris and the Louvre. Her motto is: "Put all you are into the smallest thing you do." It is a verse from a poem by one of her favorite poets Fernando Pessoa.

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