A Talk with Mr. Stereophonic: Bang & Olufsen’s Chief Designer, David Lewis

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Okay, after all that fussing and getting steamed up over nothing, we need something calming to go over. So we turn to music, or rather, the thing that plays the music. The Wall Street Journal has up a really great interview with David Lewis, the chief designer at Bang & Olufsen (the company who makes those sound systems you’d love to have but can’t even so much as afford their smallest tweeter). It’s a pretty terrific read, learning how the company creates their products, particularly with their decision to forgo hiring an in-house staff and instead using freelance designers. Lewis is great too, talking about the process between he and his staff, the massive changes in the company’s management (which seems to happen every couple of years), and how they manage the pressure to keep up to date:

The whole scene has changed. Ten years ago, a 20-year-old television was still fine. Today, technology ensures that a TV that old is totally outdated. Even so, for a company B&O’s size, products have to last long. B&O can’t afford to make such a product and discontinue it a few months later. We wouldn’t dream of doing something that wouldn’t hold. This is part of the culture.

Today there’s too much pressure, not just for designers. It’s disappointing in a way. You can miss cool things — afterthoughts, great little ideas — in the design process because it goes so fast.