Stockholm, Sweden. 2013 Design by Teenage Engineering
The OD-11 is an updated version of the original classic Swedish speaker designed by Lars Lallerstedt in 1974. Teenage Engineering, the company that currently produces this award winning amplifier, is also responsible for its polished yet unassuming communication.
Teenage Engineering OD-11 is the first successful project we are featuring on Gute Process that was entirely developed by an internal graphic design team and not commissioned to a studio. Even before looking at the results, this information already gives a deep insight at the kind of care Teenage Engineering has towards their products, design and communication.
The general approach at TE is letting each product speak in its own voice rather than forcing the very different objects in their lineup under a single identity, though a pattern of simple typography, lots of symbols, colorful photos and a touch of irony can be found in the whole catalog.
Commenting on the sense of word "minimal", TE carefully answered "we avoid adding design features that have no meaning in the product", giving further evidence to the interest in pursuing the creation of a good object from the point of view of the user instead of a style.
The range of graphic materials developed for the OD-11 is fairly limited yet very effective. The star of the show is really the photoshoot directed by TE to display the speaker: it perfectly sums up the neutral tone of the blank cube letting the photos speak for themselves.
"The photo session at Villa Erskine was an opportunity to show the linkage of the OD-11 to the Swedish design history. It’s also interesting to visualize how the strict style of the OD-11 works well in many different environments. It’s a beautiful setting that was we was fortunate to get access to."
As a result, a few complementary texts or titles are usually more than enough for the promotional material. This very calm interplay of extraordinary images and small information set in Univers can be seen both on the page of the Teenage Engineering website dedicated to the OD-11 1 or at the many exhibitions and shows where it was showcased.
The speaker is sold in a modest black packaging. While it's true that with this kind of product the box doesn't need to be appealing to customers on a shelf, being a neutral cube already expresses enough about the product being contained inside.
The booklet that comes in the box provides very simple and technical instructions for the setup and nothing more. The quality of paper and the generous layout are worth noting especially in the age that has accustomed us to electronic devices being sold often without printed matter or accompanied by small cards prompting us to look up the manual online.
This doesn't mean TE isn't taking advantage of having an online documentation, but "some material like posters, postcards and stickers is still is very nice to have in physical form. Today only what can be considered an object with some kind of lasting value qualify for printing".
Other than being an interesting piece of Scandinavian design, we hope that this successful story may be replicated by other companies that care a lot about their product and prefer to rely on an internal team for their graphic design needs.
Teenage Engineering website (teenageengineering.com)↩︎