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Gadget of the week

A never-manufactured Eames design for a radio, deemed too radical in 1946, now being produced by Vitra

BY RAIN NOE From Core77

The Eames Radio has some modern day twists–and really bugs me

According to Vitra, in 1946 Charles and Ray Eames designed a tabletop radio with a housing made of bent plywood, and this “was rejected by the designated manufacturer, who wanted a ‘normal design’.”
Charles and Ray sent photographs of the prototype to the magazine ‘Interiors’; matchbooks were included in the pictures as a scale reference. Their aim was to increase the acceptance of smaller, more modern devices.

The device never saw manufacture. But Vitra apparently owns the design as they’re now, some 70 years later, rolling it out–albeit with some design modifications:

As you can see it’s got four extra buttons, presumably to manage the Bluetooth features Vitra’s added, and of course there’s an LCD.

A couple of things bug me about this. One, they’ve placed the Eames signature on the face of the radio. Firstly I think Charles and Ray would’ve found this tacky, and secondly, they didn’t actually sign off on this modified design, so the signature is kind of a lie.
Second thing that bugs me: Limited-Edition-ness. They’re only producing an arbitrary-sounding 999 of these, for $999 each. As always I find it ironic that the Eameses set out to produce good design for the masses, yet the modern-day rights holders to their designs seem to keep them frustratingly out of reach.

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