When I think back at the devices I’ve purchased over the last 7 years it scares me to count the products I have been through – 4 cameras, 3 speaker systems, 3 computers, 4 laptops, 5 portable music players, 3 gaming consoles and 5 cell phones! And I’m not even that “into” tech or gadgets!
The reason your closet shelf has boxes full of redundant, dusty electronics is that they were designed that way. The competition between the tech giants is fierce and technological innovation is sped up to dizzying speeds as each pushes the other towards the next new feature. Tech innovation in its essence is a marvelous thing for society but one of the draw backs in the periodic release of innovation is that most products become obsolete within a few software updates. Companies in this space know their products wont be used for very long so they use low quality materials and finishes causing the product to break down and degrade quickly. In the same way the majority of these products have no cost efficient method of being repaired and are usually replaced rather than fixed.
As consumers of these short-lived tech products we have developed an insatiable appetite for new and novel items which it seems can never be satisfied. It’s becoming increasingly difficult as a designer to create a product with functional and aesthetic integrity as the almost fashionable, seasonal consumption of what we create makes the form and function date so quickly.
Fortunately there are amazing designers and businesses persistently creating products with longevity and heritage in their DNA. One of the companies we can learn from is Bang & Olufsen. From Denmark the international design icon has become a global symbol of audio & visual excellence.
Heres a few reasons why I think they’re a stand out brand who have nailed design longevity on the head:
1. Functional Relevance. B&O audio products from over 30 years ago are still being used today in homes around the world. They still produce excellent, quality sound and most are still compatible with the newer systems.
2. Durability. B&O products are exhaustively mechanically tested before they are released for production, to ensure high-quality throughout their lifetime. They are tested to ensure they can withstand cold, heat, vibrations, sunlight, dust, etc. The materials used are quality and chosen for strength and longevity.
3. Aesthetic. The reason B&O is so successful is that they have a design heritage built on functional beauty. Each item is a unique expression of the products function becoming like a piece of art in your home. Their products are not designed to compete with current trends but belong in their own category.
4. Repairability. B&O are built to last 10-15 years without any degradation in visual or audio quality. They take exhaustive measures to ensure each element of the product can be repaired.
5. Emotional Bond. The brand’s offerings are very expensive, but work so well for so long that they are more of an investment than a splurge. Emotional connection comes from the continuous pleasure found in a product that surprises the user with its function and form over and over again.