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Bang & Olufsen

Bang & Olufsen (B&O) is a Danish company that designs and manufactures high-end sound products, televisions and telephones. The company’s headquarters are in the town of Struer in Northern Jutland (Jylland). In 2006-2007 Bang & Olufsen turned over 4.3 billion Danish Kroners, and employed 2,520 people. It's worth noting that the total population of Struer is 11,364 people (2007).

Bang & Olufsen is world renowned for their ultra-modern top quality electronics products. Oddly enough some of Bang & Olufsen success can be attributed to the movie industry. Bang & Olufsen products almost seem to have become a necessary prop in the movie industry. A keen eye will be able spot countless B&O products in films, and they only ever in the homes of the wealthiest, most sophisticated characters being portrayed on the big screen. The reason is obvious. Bang & Olufsen`s designs have the ability to speak for themselves, and one thing they say more than anything else is `class`.

It has been said that when you buy a Bang & Olufsen product you are not just purchasing a television or a stereo. You are purchasing a piece of designer furniture for your living room.

The company was formed in 1925 by Peter Bang (1900-1957) and Svend Olufsen (1897-1949). Their first serious noteworthy invention was an ‘eliminator’, which allowed a radio to run off of an alternating current (AC). This may not sound significant, but this was at a time when most radios were being powered by battery. Being able to plug your radio directly into the power supply of your residence was a major step forward in radio technology.  

After Peter Bang graduated 1924 as an engineer he spent several months in the United States working in a radio factory. When Peter returned to Denmark he teamed up with his school friend Svend Olufsen. They started working out of Olufsen’s parent’s house. In the early years Peter did the majority of the designing and manufacturing while Svend was devoted to the business side of their company.

During World War 2 the Germans occupied Denmark, and towards the end of the war Bang & Olufsen suffered a major setback with their company. The main factory was deliberately burned down by pro-Nazi supports because of Peter and Svend`s lack of cooperation with the occupying Nazis. Bang & Olufsen rebuilt their factory and continued to design and manufacture home entertainment products. Unfortunately the company never really achieved major success in Peter and Svend`s hands.

It wasn`t until after Svend passed away in 1949, and Peter passed away in 1957 that the company showed signs of the major success to come. In 1957 Ib Fabiansen joined the company and his attention to unique designs was apparent from the start.

However, it wasn’t until 1964 when the company started hiring the Danish industrial designer Jacob Jensen to design their products that the company truly started to flourish. Jacob Jensen went on to be the chief designer for B&O for the next 2 decades, and as an advisor on matters of design and strategy up until 1991. Jacob Jensen went on to design over 200 individual products for B&O. Jacob was instrumental in Bang & Olufsen achieving international success and recognition. 

Oddly enough in 1965, the year after Jacob Jensen started doing design work for B&O David Lewis joined Bang & Olufsen. David Lewis patiently waited 20 years for his chance, and finally took over as B&O`s chief designer in the mid-1980`s.

Products by B&O are intended to reflect cutting edge industrial design, function and quality. One area in which Bang & Olufsen is not like your average electronics manufacturer is that B&O does not employ any designers. They prefer that designers should be independent from the company. This allows them to hunt down the most innovative designs to continue filling their niche as producers of the most innovative high-end sound products, televisions and telephones.  

Bang & Olufsen`s internationally renowned reputation is based on their own unique, beautiful designs, a devotion to using the highest technology available and on their dedication to producing the absolute best quality available on the market.

In May 2008 Struer Museum in the town of Struer opened a large exhibition with a wide range of Bang & Olufsen's products. The Museum has a chronological presentation of B & O's history and product range. Visitors to the Museum are welcome to see, hear and touch both new and old appliances.

In 1972, seven Bang & Olufsen (B&O) audio products designed by Jacob Jensen were included in the Design Collection of the world famous Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The permanent collection at the Museum currently has 19 B&O products on display.

In 2004, in an attempt to cut costs the company moved some of their assembly and manufacturing to the Czech Republic. The approximate 250 Czech employees earn much less than their Danish counterparts.

Bang & Olufsen have more than 1,200 stores worldwide. If you happen to walk by one of these stores it is well worth having a peek inside to see their amazing product line, even if you can never hope to afford one of their products.

LastUpdate: 2015-04-22 10:33:37