In the early 1920s, company founder Max Braun had made his entrepreneurial start by manufacturing radio componentry. By 1929 the canny Braun was producing complete radio sets of his own design. In 1934, the "A" in the center of the Braun logo (above) was shaped to resemble their art-deco-styled Cosmophon 333 radio (below).
As was and is the Braun hallmark, technical sophistication married with innovative design would mark the category. As early as 1932, Max Braun had created a combination radio-phonograph, this at a time when radios with a built-in speaker was still a fairly new idea.
But it wasn't until the mid-1950s that the company, under the stewardship of Max's sons Erwin and Artur, began forming a proper design department combining the foci of several talented individuals. Through their collaboration, drive, and relentless experimentation, the company began producing audio goods that moved firmly into what we would later think of as MoMA territory. And they would take some wild chances along the way.
Artur Braun, Fritz Eichler
This design storm began around 1955, with Artur Braun and Fritz Eichler's SK 1 tabletop radio. The relatively tiny device could be placed on a windowsill and was a sharp departure from the gaudy visual clutter of other radios of the era. There was a dial and two unlabeled control knobs set into one side of a rational grid of dots for the speaker, and the barest hint of fins on the bottom for the device to stand on. (The grid of dots, by the way, would appear time and again in a variety of Braun products of all categories.)
Image courtesy of Das Programm, specialist sellers of Braun Design, 1955–1995
While the SK 1 was radical, the company had still not yet given up on the idea of using wooden-bodied radios, as was the fashion of previous decades. But Hans Gugelot's sleek G 11 design deviated wildly from the baroque "music furniture" that consumers were familiar with. It also contained a design innovation that would come to influence the product category: The side edges were completely flat and the same dimensions top and bottom. If a consumer purchased the corresponding G 12 turntable, they could stack it atop the G 11.(more...)