We love a good-looking bit of audio-video kit, so we’re always excited about anything new from Bang & Olufsen, not to mention the nostalgic reveries its back catalogue evokes. Now the Danish brand is opening the book on what presses its buttons with B&O PLAY Journal. Here’s our special edit.
Cecilie Manz in her studio with prototypes of the Beolit 12 B&O PLAY speaker
Manz’s Beolit 12 packs a powerful music punch in a portable and stylish package. The Beolit 12 includes built in battery and wireless connectivity
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Function and aesthetics are two qualities that underline Danish industrial designer Cecilie Manz’s work. And her ‘Beolit 12’ speaker perfectly illustrates both. ‘I design things to last for 15 or 20 years. My designs aim to make everyday life easier,’ says Manz. ‘But aesthetics are just as important. I think great design is 50 percent functionality and 50 percent aesthetics. If you don’t have both, you won’t want to look at it in 20 years.’
To make sure her products not only look good but work well, too, Manz brings them home, testing out what they’re like to live with. And there’s a lot to try out. Collaborating with Danish firms such as Muuto, Holmegaard, Georg Jensen Damask and Fritz Hansen, she’s designed linen, furniture, glassware and lamps. ‘With every new object I start from scratch. I look at how we can make it function perfectly, but also how we can give it its own character,’ says the designer.
The Beolit 12 is the first piece of electronics she’s worked on. ‘The first thing I did was check they’d called the right person,’ she laughs. But when Manz realised that the stuff on the inside wasn’t her problem, she approached the design in the same way she always has. The only prerequisite was that it had to be a portable speaker for iPhones, iPads and computers. The rest was up to her.
‘Bang & Olufsen is really good at what it does. I particularly like the way it works with aluminium, which I also use. But it’s expensive, so plastic was used for the main body,’ explains Manz, pointing out that the flat top sets it apart from other speakers. ‘Before the Beolit 12, all the iPod speakers had docking stations on top. We wanted to challenge this and came up with the “tray” solution instead. Another thing that is special about the design is the leather handle, which seems to be just aesthetic but actually means the speaker doesn’t wobble when you carry it. The corners are also rounded, so they don’t hurt you when they bump into your legs while moving it.’ Functionality is once again at the fore.
Words by Marie Kaufholz; Photography by Kristian Holm