The Orion 23 by Franco Albini and Franca Helg, produced by Brionvega in 1961, was an early example of television design. The screen was supported on a slender metal base, creating a suspended viewing effect, in complete contrast to the monolithic gravitas of the models then on the market. Televisions had never been the subject of stylistic research before then.
Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper were also ahead of the game with Doney 14, designed in 1962, again for Brionvega. It was the first portable transistor television to be made in Europe, netting a Compasso d’Oro award, and was followed in 1964 by the Lilliputian Algol 11. Both genuinely revolutionary given their extra small size and sloping, rounded screens, and equipped with an easy carrying handle and colourful ABS housing. The Black ST201 came along in 1969, nicknamed the Cube because of its compact volumetry, while its transparent, reflective black case turned it into a furnishing piece. These televisions sets were among the first to turn the transitional aesthetic and functional canons on their heads, promoting the domestic integration of the devices, elevating them instead to luminous objects of desire. They marked a first step in the evolution of televisions, a natural response to the then contemporary interiors and demands, which were bolder and less rigid than in the past.
The Dutch designer Robert Bronwasser’s Homedia TV of 2013, a design statement that captured the frenzy of innovation surrounding televisions, was a response to his reflection “Why are the products that dominate the domestic environment so often uniform and soulless?” The answer to that is a television that becomes a piece of home decoration in its own right, attracting attention even when off. First of all, its shape is reminiscent of the old blackboards on easels, i.e. a freestanding object made up of a covered three-legged die cast aluminium structure and a screen framed by a strip of Kvadrat fabric, which becomes a rounded casing at the rear, housing all the technology.