Icon 162: Electric dreams – out now 01.11.16

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In our latest issue, we meet the designers rethinking the aesthetics of technology and assess the architectural legacy of the European Union in Britain

Consumer electronics have an entrenched aesthetic. Hard, slick and at their worst baffling complex, it is hard to describe them as ‘designed’ objects, such is their degree of homogeneity.

And, so far, the recent reinvention of craft as a signifier of luxury has not heralded a wholesale return to the classic wood panelled Bang & Olufsens of the 1970s. During that period, Hi-Fi resembled a piece of Scandi furniture. But the more complex sound systems and the like became, the more they jarred with the sensibility of our homes. It need not be this way, argues London-based designer Tord Boontje, who challenged the prevailing wind in a thought-provoking and, at times, eccentric show ‘Electro Craft’ at the recent London Design Festival.

Of all the participants, Yuri Suzuki came up with the most eye-catching response to Boontje’s brief to rethink the craft of electronics, with his deconstruction of a ghetto blaster (pictured on our cover). It proved a neat reference to Daniel Weil’s 100 Objects (also part of the show), which captured a similar disenchantment with the overriding trend in the 80s. Of course, no one is suggesting the work on show would make for real-world products – Boontje’s own horsehair-covered speaker for Yamaha, which looks to be inspired by Cousin It, is a case in point. ‘These projects don’t start with market research, they start with creativity,’ he says. We rarely question the aesthetics of consumer electronics. Maybe it is time for that to change. The ideas behind Electro Craft make as good a starting point as any.



James McLachlan



quotes story

The more complex sound systems and the like became, the more they jarred with the sensibility of our homes




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