The Braun Wandanlage is considered an iconic piece of design: the original hi-fi wall system featured a control panel, tape recorder, and speakers, and was designed by none other than renowned industrial designer Dieter Rams. It has been 60 years since the Wandanlage was originally conceived, and Braun is celebrating the anniversary with a new system updated and reimagined by American designer Virgil Abloh.
Virgil Abloh is perhaps best known for his contributions to fashion. He is currently serving as the artistic director for menswear at Louis Vuitton and, in 2012, founded the fashion label Off-White. Yet his resume stretches far beyond fashion; he is a trained architect and his contributions to design and art are varied and wide-reaching. It is therefore not surprising that he has joined forces with one of the most recognised names in industrial design to update the Wandanlage.
The main question posed by Abloh in his quest was how do you bring such a timeless object into modern times? When an audio system has been around since 1961 there are some obvious updates one could make. In the case of the Wandanlage, which boasts such an iconic form, the question is not simply what could be updated, but what should be updated. Yes, technology has evolved, and we have many more ways of listening to music today. But Braun’s designs are made to last, not to follow trends. Abloh honours this design principle in his updated system; the audio technology still functions as it did in the original piece.
Abloh calls Wandanlage, Reimagined “functional art”. He claims this object was always a piece of art by its simple nature of hanging on the wall. The designer incorporates this artistic component into his concept for the new wall system. The sheer size and the merging of the original audio technology with an updated aesthetic is what makes Wandanlage, Reimagined a piece of functional art.
On or off, the wall unit is a statement piece, and is intended to be displayed as such in one’s home. The classic components of the original Wandanlage remain; the monochrome colour scheme, the control panel, and the speakers stationed as bookends on both sides. The way these components come together in the 2021 version, however, is pure Abloh. The most notable change is the use of chrome.
Abloh strategically chose chrome for the new material, drawing inspiration from modern culture—platinum chains, shiny rims—and historical design, such as the Barcelona Pavilion. The chrome on the Wandanlage feels quite modern, and invokes a sense of glamour. Yet chrome has been utilised as a material in industrial design for the past century, ensuring it is a timeless material that is likely to remain so.
To document the wide array of artistic and cultural inspiration that went in to the wall unit a short film was shot with Virgil Abloh at Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. Give it a watch and let the inspiration flow into you. The Wandanlage, Reminagined introduces a classic piece of industrial design to a new generation of fans, and in doing so, just about guarantees this design will remain an iconic—and functional—piece of design for the next 100 years.