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Bang & Olufsen Beovision LX5500

Industrielt Design 2 - 41078 Assignment 2 - Product analysis DTU - The Technical University of Denmark


Dear Reader This manual contains insightful information about one of the most exclusive hifi and television brands Bang & Olufsen [B&O]. The brand has [markeret] itself in several different segments in the electronic equipment arena such as hifi, television, telephones and more. This manual will begin with an introduction to the Bang & Olufsen brand and history and a presentation of the designer David Lewis, followed by a more elaborate description of the industrial design in regards to form, exterior, colours, material and customer understanding of one specific model in the Bang & Olufsen product portfolio: the LX5500. The design tradition and path dependency of Bang & Olufsen is heavy and fixed to a traditional design guide that is easily distinguished from other brands even though B&O is continuously presenting new innovative designs and functions. These design characteristics are spreading out to any product that B&O delivers - even with regards to their user manuals. The original manual to the B&O LX colour television series has a red cover and content in a strict black and white mesh layout. The layout of this assignment is designed with inspiration from the BeoVision 11 manual that clearly shows the path dependency from the 1990 LX series to the modern BeoVision 11 models – And this is even just regarding the relation between the products and its manual. That is truly amazing!

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Content Bang & Olufsen David Lewis Vita Riis Analysis elipse Contex Internal Dimension External Dimension Looking Back

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Bang & Olufsen B&O was established by the two young engineers Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen in 1925. After only two years they delivered the first product to bear the name of the newly born brand: The Bang & Olufsen Eliminator, a radio, which could be powered directly from grid and not through DC battery as the norm described at the time. An incredible functional breakthrough was made in 1938 where the company launched their Master 38CH and Master de Luxe that could handle up to 16 permanent stations on the selector. Already a year after the attention to design was initiated when packing in the Master series in the new exciting polymer material bakelit. This radio was named Beolit and a beginning of the era of Beo as prefix. In 1940 B&O introduced specific consumer targeted campaigns with attractive shop decorations around Denmark which immediately lead to success on the consumer market. Due to the user needs during the wartime the German occupation had its effect on the design. Therefore, the Grand Prix 41 was introduced with a tuning scale that could be flipped up and down covering what station had been on since last powered. However, in 1945 the German occupation forces in cooperation with Danish saboteurs destroyed the B&O factory in Struer that nearly brought the company to collapse. The new factory was built already the year after in 1946 and was introduced with the invention of the first wire-recorder in Europe that eventually lead the way to the open-reel tape recorders. In 1948 the two inventors managed to invent the company’s first “high-fidelity” radio named Grand Prix 48CH Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen had an untraditional approach to the engineering design of radios from the beginning. Products of the 20th century should display their technical abilities rather than the physical design, construction, material, colour composition and aesthetics appearance - the culture of developing innovative ideas.

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David Lewis David Lewis (Lewis) joined Bang & Olufsen in the mid 60’s and eventually took over as chief designer after his predecessor Jacob Jensen. He was born 1939 in London and educated at the Central School of Art. Lewis was keen about hand sketching rather than computational drawings and had good competences in model making with cardboard as prime material. One of the keys that was part of Lewis’ and B&O’s design philosophy was the ability to create concepts that could last at least ten years with used content, functions and design. The genius implementation of anti reflexive coating on the television screens was one of Lewis’ inventions caused by the problem when watching British football on Saturday afternoons. ”Form is nothing more than an extension of content. And who says that loudspeakers should hide away in corners, if the closer they get to you, the better they sound?” Lewis, from Beolink Magazine 7, 2003 Lewis was the designer of all B&O’s video systems including the MX and LX series, Beovision Avant. David Lewis passed away in 2011. Through his life he has been acknowledged for his great work at B&O and his own design agency. Among an uncountable amount of prices the Royal Society has rewarded Lewis with the title as “Royal Designer for Industry” in 2001 that only 100 people earn!

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Vita Riis Design analysis The design analysis is applied to the B&O LX5500 and will show some of the main ideas, functions and form characteristics.





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Arena B&O is constantly following the trends within the development space of other producers of HIFI, television and consumer electronics in general. B&O is well known to challenge these spaces with innovative design thinking and in general construction of technology. Today, however, the case when developing quality televisions is depending on hard-core software and high-end technological electrical equipment rather than materials, aesthetics and mechanical functions. As was the case in 1990 and still is today, some very few producers deliver the core components of a television. In 1990 it was Phillips, and today Samsung is handling this job with skills that basically none can challenge. A quote by David Lewis “A TV without a picture is definitely not a plus when it comes to interior design…” tells that the philosophy of this honoured designer nearly has come true. A television today is an object that silently hangs on the wall as a scenografic picture and a theater when turned on. The closest competitor was the German quality brand Löwe who at that time produced some tv-sets of barely the same quality as Bang & Olufsen. However, where Löwe focused on only a few electronic segments B&O adressed nearly all fields of consumer electronics but still with audio as primary focus. In this arena the core competition came from world wide giants as Matsushita Electrical industries now known widely as Panasonic, the BOSE corporation and Harman International.

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Context PRODUCTS Eliminator


Peter Bang & Svend Olufsen

1927 5 Lamper

1929 Master 38 CH



Grand Prix 41


Factory destroyed and rebuild

1960 1962

Beomaster 900

Jacob Jensen

Shipping to most of Europe

1965 David Lewis Beovision 600



Beovision 6002 Beovision 8902 Beovision LX Beovision MX




Anders Knutsen new CEO

1993 Beovision Avant (IF award)



Selling 500 mio $





Bang & Olufsen Telecom a/s Bang & Olufsen Medicom a/s




Frame The Asian market and especially the Japanese hifi produceres nearly ripped B&O apart in the 80’s. Distributors started losing faith in the exclusive Danish brand and the reaction from B&O was to focus on their wealthiest customers. The managing team was slow to react and eventually made a partner agreement with Dutch Phillips, however, the money earned from the venture was quickly drained. By the beginning of the 90’s B&O had just overcome one of the many financial crisises in the company and lots of employees were

Actor discarded due to the strategic plan of Anders Knutsen. Moreover, this coming decade turned out to be of a stepping stone in the B&O history. Anders Knutsen stepped in as CEO and hired a totally new stab. The last version of the classic LX television series was sold in 1994 and B&O was ready to begin a new era. Denmark was in rapid growth and the common Dane could suddenly afford expensive audio and television systems from B&O. This eventually led to growth in the company.

The LX5500 is a classic B&O television with speakers placed on each side of the screen. At the time in 1990 it was the absolute flagship of the video business and one of the best functional televisions in the world according to the product catalogue at the time. Therefore, the primary buyer was the highest end of the society primarily in Denmark but also in the rest of Europe.

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Internal dimension Function The LX5500 is a television with severe high quality video and audio rendering. The television is only equipped with two buttons, an on/ off button and a program shift button. The enclosed Beolink 1000 remote is functioning as the primary interface to the television.



A motorized foot makes the LX5500 turn in 35 degrees around a vertical axis from the center of television in both directions. Moreover, this stand is completely silent when turning the television and the internal speaker system of this television is even in the age of 23 years better than most sounds systems in Danish homes.

Format Bank Regarding Warrel’s design format model it is clear to se the B&O both cope with incorporating new trends ad styles to the market while at the same time being able to bring signature formats, styles, patterns from the bank. When looking on the development path of BeoVision history it easy to tell the familiarity. David Lewis was known for his dedication to create mocko-ups and models of his design in cardboard. This limitation caused that Lewis only created designs with single curved surfaces.

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Basically all the interaction has really been adopted by the remarkable Beolink 1000 remote control. The response from the television is immediate when activating a commando on the remote. The television has been restored twice during it 23 years of function. The original manual even includes a full electronic diagram and component list for maintenance. All parts are fastened with conventional Phillips screws in order to open up and maintain the electronics and mechanical components. The television is equipped with a nice functionality in the anti reflective sun screen that adds on crucial function of decreasing the reflexion from the ambient environment. Not only is this sun screen an aesthetic benefit due to the streamlined surface connection on the front. It is of such quality that the television can actually be used in an open living room during day.

The LX5500 is a plug and play solution - every thing you need within range. The system consists of a footer, a Beolink remote and the LX5500 television. It is equipped with a satelite receiver, an internal sound amplifier with connection opertunity of stereo speakers, multiple scart in/ output and high quality tv-tuner.

The back cover of the television is made of thermo-formed PP with a surface roughness on approximately 15 [μm] and an upper part of injection molded PP with the same surface roughness. The 20 mm aluminium band covering the television is polished to obtain a surface roughness on 0,05 [μm] that looks like a mirror from a distance but on close hold doesn’t reflect at all.

Materials Part of the B&O design philosophy is the use of quality materials. Especially the use of anodised aluminium is a B&O design classic. The LX5500 containins a classic mix of thermoplastic with rough surfaces, glass, iron and aluminium.

The television has some extensive usability features as watching multiple tv channels at the same time. The tv is equipped with real two way stereo sound with its two 5cm tweeters, two 10cm woofer and two bass reflexes.

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External dimension Perception B&O is known for its minimalistic approach well known from the area of Ulm and are following all of Dieter Rams ten principles in design. However, it is obvious to a user that Dieter Rams has never designed anything for B&O. The development of B&O’s own design philosophy is old and it is by no chance possible even today to see the path dependency in old B&O electronics made in the 1950’s compared to a 1990’s LX5500 television and then further on to modern electronics that barely even displays the B&O logo anywhere visible. B&O is carrying a tradition in the design that is anchored in lines and curves, material use, usability and functional quality that immediately is perceived as “B&O” – how is that? Because the B&Oness is still strong!

Communication When buying such a television the full experience is essential. The manual is neat, the remote is extraordinary and even the packaging material looks good. The discrete Bang & Olufsen logo is printed on top right corner of the aluminium band creating a beautiful contrast from the mat black ink to the shiny light aluminium.

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Form Aesthetics The first sight when glancing on the television shows a television with nice proportions and a minimalistic approach to design. With its dimensions of W x H x D: 86 x 52 x 46cm it isn’t a small television at all. However, the explanation to why it doesn’t really seem like a humongous tv-set is because of the composition of straight lines and half curves that are going well together in the LX5500. From above it is obvious that David Lewis has been trying to lower the attention to the rear end of the television where the tube is hidden. The casing has two convex curves that align with the rear end of the screen making this end as small and unimportant as possible – this is actually the straight opposite of other television brands at that time who tried

to align the back cover with concave curves to front. The set is weighing 43 kilos and is made of robust materials giving the general idea of a robust product. A remarkable feature is the alignment of parts to one another, which is made with focus on robust design. In the 1990’s competitive brands were making the entire tv from only a couple of plastic molds and aligning these together with no gap. This can be problematic since the tolerances of these molds are very high and there is probability of getting a visible unintended gap, overlap or unalignment. The LX5500 has no overlaps and no parts or curves that are not

100% aligning together. This is due to the intelligence of the robust design philosophy. When looking from above the television, the main part of the TV and the tv-screen form a streamlined wing profile from the left to the right. The convex curves from the back tube cover align firstly to a concave curve behind the main part and then eventually to the wing profile of the screen. This is a brilliant detail that decreases the visual wieght of the television.

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External dimension

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Material Aesthetics


The aesthetics of materials is something that especially characterises B&O’s design philosophy, and the LX5500 is no exception. The beautiful contrasts between the shiny anodised aluminium, the mat black surfaces and the polished white piano lacquer creates a discrete harmonic play that turns the television in to a silent artificial object. The LX5500 in white piano lacquer tells a story of a paradigm shift at B&O: David Lewis had introduced The MX series two year’s prior in 1988, yet again showing off B&O’s innovative culture with new and tempting designs. However, the television was representing another speciality than the craftsmanship in material handling: Wood was replaced with coloured plastic cabinets.

The classic design, durability and outstanding performance is the main reason that B&O is considered longterm reliant and expressing a timeless design that makes the products fit in every room of a home. The fan page, BeoCollectors, states that “B&O is for those who consider taste and quality before price.” which is roughly speaking true. However, the design is not expressing exclusivity, high-end and wealth in many other parts of the world, because of its minimalistic design and underacted presence. This is something that carries a message about B&O’s origin in Denmark and the post-war design traditions. One of the big speaker competitors to B&O is the younger System Audio and a guy in the audience asked the CEO Ole Witthøft from System Audio “How do you get along selling these speakers to rich people in Eastern Europe and middle east? – well we just add in hooker screws (shiny golden Phillips screws) instead”.


Looking back The B&O LX5500 is still an object of desire today. The clean lines and appealing contrasts is something the common eye would recognise as exclusive even today. Compared to modern flat screen televisions the LX5500 is an object worth a touch. The magnificent material composition appeals to be touched and felt: this regarding the coolness of the metal compared to the polymer materials with no “temperature” and the shifting surface roughness and colours from one material to another. The LX5500 was eventually replaced by the BeoVision LX6000 to become the last version of the LX archietecture. The new kid on the blog was named BeoVision MX6000 and was able to offer much more technology in less space than the LX. The MX series is today long gone and replaced by the top modern Beovision 12 that is not only more than twice the size (diagonal) of the old LX5500 but also consuming more than the double in energy.

“The Germans introduced matt black in the ‘60s and made some wonderful stuff, but the industry has been following blindly ever since. Today, you can hardly tell whether you’re looking at a toaster or a typewriter. On top of that, people have been led to believe that high quality is synonymous with gadgetry and complexity.” (David Lewis, Beolink Magazine 7, September 2003)

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List of references,_karriere_og_ledelse/ Erhvervsliv/Erhvervsvirksomheder/Bang_og_Olufsen

Picture list jpg

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Beovision lx5500  

Hand in of Assignment two in Industriel Design 2 at the Technical University of Denmark