For Milan Design Week 2021, Bang & Olufsen is proud to present an exhibition that seeks to reverse the industry trend of growing e-waste by providing real solutions to help design out waste and inspire consumers to service, repair and upgrade their audio products, so they can enjoy a lifetime of music with the products they love. 

The exhibition starts by showcasing Bang & Olufsen’s approach to modular design, exemplified by an exploded view of a 1970’s Beogram 4000 Series turntable. This demonstrates how these design principles enabled the company to design products for longevity and make them relevant beyond the first life-cycle. 

The retrospective continues by showcasing how Bang & Olufsen has used these modular design principles to create the Beosound Level speaker, which is designed for a circular economy and is the first audio product in the world to achieve a Cradle to Cradle® Bronze certification. 

The exhibition ends with Bang & Olufsen’s future vision of product connectivity by showing a Beogram 4002 from 1975 seamlessly – and with the option of wirelessly  – connecting to a set of powerful Beolab 28 speakers from 2021. This allows the complete music system to remain relevant for decades and enable a lifetime of music.

“We are proud of how far we have come in fighting technology obsolescence, but we are only at the beginning of the journey. Providing real solutions to how we can reverse the trend of decreasing product lifecycle duration, decreasing e-waste and help transform the industry in a positive way one step at the time is at the heart of our product strategy”, says Mads Kogsgaard Hansen, who is leading Bang & Olufsen’s product circularity and recreated classic initiatives  and continues: “It is not only about finding technological ways to extend the lifetime of electronic products and keeping them relevant through decades, longevity is an outcome that is achieved in partnership with consumers.  For us to succeed, we must work with emotional durability in the design process through customization, adaptability and upgradability and have customers close to us, so we stimulate the need for newness that will eventually arise”.    

Unveiling an upgrade kit for vintage 1970’s Beogram turntables

In 2020, Bang & Olufsen sourced 95 original Beogram 4000 series turntables and brought them back to Struer, Denmark, where they were originally created. The original aluminium components were re-manufactured and re-anodized, new wooden panels crafted along with a new dust cover and restored mechanical and electronic components. Also, a new pick-up cartridge based on Bang & Olufsen’s original specification was added to future-proof the sound reproduction. Bang & Olufsen’s engineers took advantage of the original design teams’ foresight to prepare the turntable for future technology upgrades by building in a RIAA pre-amplifier. This allows the turntable to be connected to modern speakers using a 3.5mm line-level connection and provides customers with seamless integration between Beogram 4000c and Bang & Olufsen’s entire range of home speakers.

Based on these learnings, Bang & Olufsen is pleased to announce that from September 2021 all existing owners of a vintage Beogram 4000 Series turntable (4000/4002/6000/4004) can purchase an upgrade service kit for their existing turntable . This includes a new dust cover with an aluminium strip, stylish fabric and signal cables, hand-crafted wood panels in two solid oak finishes, a tailor-made RIAA pre-amplifier to allow for audio connectivity to modern speaker technology and a maintenance and service check up to ensure the functionality of the turntable. The steel chassis of the turntables will enter a circular refurbishment network to be restored and repainted before being redistributed. This initiative allows customers to future-proof their turntables and treat them as investments for generations to come.

The first ever cradle to cradle certified® speaker

Refining the design philosophy of the Beogram 4000 Series turntable, Beosound Level has been created using modular design principles to improve longevity potential, designed for a circular economy.  At the exhibit, a visual representation of the deconstructed speaker allows visitors to understand the different stages of the product lifecycle that Bang & Olufsen developed to expand the product’s lifespan which contributed to Beosound Level being the first ever Cradle to Cradle Certified® Bronze speaker in the consumer electronics industry.

The speaker is easy to maintain, service, and repair with the purpose of expanding the lifetime substantially beyond industry standards. Customers can replace the battery themselves and service partners have easy access to critical components for replacements if needed, ensuring both a long lifetime with one customer and enabling multiple loops with a series of different ownerships. Once it reaches its end-of-useful-life point after many years of service, Beosound Level supports a resource efficient recycling process to help closing material loops because of ease of disassembly and use of high-quality materials, together with its structural components made from high-quality post-consumer recirculated polymer materials. 

Bang & Olufsen’s modular design journey is part of an installation of Danish strongholds focused on sustainability and circularity designed by Lendager Group and arranged by The Danish Embassy in Rome. The exhibition is housed within Rossana Orlandi’s TrashFormation Village that is a central element of Milan Design Week. 

The Danish Installation at the Museo Nazionale Scienzae Tecnologia in Milan is open to the public from 5th – 12th September from 10am – 8pm.