Brionvega's Latest

Brionvega, known for its very esoteric consumer electronics, launched their latest LCD+DVD player called Alpha at the recent Milan Design Week.
I have always been a fan of Brionvega’s strong design language, and the ability to use design to make a difference in the competitive CE market. Unfortunately this time, even though the design language has a consistent feel, I find that they did not seem to get the product right.

Designed by Italian industrial design house V12, the Alpha does reflect Brionvega’s heritage of iconic products. This was no easy task for V12, as Brionvega’s stable of pedigree designers includes Richard Sapper, Marco Zanuso, Mario Bellini, Ettore Sottsass, and my favorite Achille Castiglioni.
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The overall idea of a lifestyle semi-portable product and a horizontal metal crafted carry handle, though nothing new, is a gorgeous direction. However I think the let down was in the development and refinement of the product. Thus I wonder if it was a “genius sketch” that was passed off to another designer for development or engineering constraints reared its ugly head.
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The proportions fall short in my minds eye. Not only does the size of the screen fight with the body, the configuration of the screen in the front of the DVD gives the product a top heavy feel, and the nature of this orientation means the 90 degree vertical LCD panel looks like it going to tip over forward anytime. I would have preferred a more “laptop” orientated configuration, where the screen is behind the device. Though more conventional, it draws the user into the device. Perhaps I’m not seeing it right as this product could be meant as something you display and engage from a distance.
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Also the proportions of the side poles seem extremely heavy and thick in relation to the body and screen. I would have thought V12 would consider their standard fitted metal plate that is consistent to other Brionvega products and seen on the back of Alpha’s remote control.
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Overall it reminds me of a slight Bauhaus influence cum retro mix. I’m surprised as this seems contradictory to Brionvega’s focus which is:

good design is no longer simply for an “elite” but is demanded by a far wider audience interested in continuous development. With so many designs and products available, how is it possible to distinguish a truly outstanding design from one that is simply trendy.

A “retro reflection” product does not appeal to all markets, and this was a passing trend phase a few years ago. To me Brionvega’s Alpha seemed to look back at its past heritage for inspiration, while their previous iconic products were designed at a forward looking era, and had paved the way for the future.
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Regardless the overall package works very well, and I hope this is something that can raise the company’s brand profile as part of its brand re-launch objectives.
Via: David Report

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