We Are Rewind takes tape into the 21st century

We Are Rewind’s self-consciously retro Cassette Player is designed to tap into our ongoing obsession for analogue formats. Just the thing for your mixtape 2022?

Cassette Player by We Are Rewind, in blue, black and orange versions
We Are Rewind Cassette Player
(Image credit: We Are Rewind)

The 1980s revival is all very well in fashion, where it can be expressed through both vintage finds and contemporary reimaginings. Technology, on the other hand, usually ages badly and there’s almost always a modern replacement that’ll do the job better and with less fuss.

Blue Cassette Player by We Are Rewind

(Image credit: We Are Rewind)

However, as the ongoing vinyl revival shows, physical formats are having a moment – turntables are the latest must-have items of domestic design (and are gloriously explored in Phaidon’s Revolution: The History of Turntable Design). Even CDs are rapidly ascending in popularity – 2021 was the first time CD sales rose since 2004 – but the format that’s finding most currency with music makers and listeners alike is the humble cassette tape.

We Are Rewind portable Cassette Player

Hand picks up orange portable Cassette Player by We Are Rewind

(Image credit: We Are Rewind)

We Are Rewind is a French company set up by Romain Boudruche. Unashamedly spurred on by the retro revivalism at play in film and TV, Boudruche sought to bring the humble portable cassette player back to life. The company’s first product is the deeply minimalist ‘Cassette Player’, available in three colours Keith, Kurt and Serge (grey, blue and orange, respectively) – the sober black is just for show.

Black Cassette Players by We Are Rewind on black background

(Image credit: We Are Rewind)

The device draws obvious parallels with the best examples of the genre from back in the day, most notably Sony’s peerless Walkman line, and in particular the iconic Walkman Professional and the cult stylings of the yellow Sports Walkman series. The newcomer is forged from aluminium, not plastic, and references the squared-off simplicity of the earliest portable cassette players. 

Detail of controls and logo on orange Cassette Player by We Are Rewind

(Image credit: We Are Rewind)

Everything is geometric and pared back – there are no fancy gadgets like auto-reverse or graphic equalisers, let alone a Dolby switch. We Are Rewind has made some concessions to contemporary demands with the addition of Bluetooth (on top of a standard headphone jack), and a built-in chargeable battery instead of relying on old school ‘AA’ or ‘AAA’ cells.

Ready to record your mixtape 2022

Blue portable Cassette Player by We Are Rewind

(Image credit: We Are Rewind)

Finally, the Cassette Player offers up the ultimate functionality – the ability to record from an external source. The original compact cassette was created by Philips back in the early 1960s – the format is just about to celebrate its 60th year. Will the return of the cassette prove that a mixtape means so much more than a playlist? 

We Are Rewind, Cassette Player, €149


Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.