The icon, the past and the future come together in Brionvega’s Alpha Television by V12 Design
Brionvega’s Alpha Television is more than just a product, it is the embodiment of beautiful design, timeless aesthetics and the quintessential Italian style.
Jumping back almost 15 years, we’re in 2007 and electronics Brionvega is on the lookout for opportunities to gain back the status it held in the ’70s: a top-tier company manufacturing state of the art electronic devices with impeccable design aesthetics.
Why the Brionvega Alpha TV? To relaunch an iconic company after 30 years of inactivity through a disruptive product connecting to the brand’s DNA
This is where the Milanese studio Valerio Cometti + V12 Design comes into the picture, called in to imply their vast engineering and product design knowledge to create a new product for Brionvega that would represent the brand’s commitment to combining form and function, merging modern technology with smart design solutions.
The product requested by Brionvega is a challenging one: a television. The team at V12 Design found themselves dealing with the two heavy-weights in the history of modern design: Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper, the minds behind Algol. First released in 1964, the revolutionary television by Brionvega presents a disruptive user-centered design for many reasons, and above all is worth mentioning the upward-looking screen, facilitating users to place Algol on lower support surfaces, and the retractable handle, a pioneering feature transforming the TV into a device which can be easily moved around the house.
The minds behind the project – Valerio Cometti + V12 Design for Brionvega
Founded in the 1960s by Giuseppe Brion and Leone Pajetta, Brionvega is the embodiment of the quintessential Italian style, a perfect fusion of creativity, color, unconventional models, ‘loud personalities’, and cult products.
Over the decades, Brionvega has told a unique story where brilliant designers are the protagonists and creators of beautiful designs that have overturned the concept of what consumer electronics are. Brionvega’s innovative products such as Doney, Totem, Radiocubo, Radiofonografo, and Algol, among others, are symbols of excellent industrial design that have surprised and made the entire world fall in love with Italian design.
In order to relaunch, revamp, and regain the prestige of such an iconic brand, Brionvega turned to another forward-thinking Italian company, V12 Design. Founded by Valerio Cometti, V12 Design encompasses everything of what design should be. Their design approach is an exemplary combination of engineering, aesthetics, design-oriented vision, and creative solutions, leading them to work with prestigious international clients.
V12 Design embraces the true multidisciplinary essence of design and offers a vast amount of services to its clients, some of which include graphic and service design, branding, engineering and coaching services, and of course product design. It is their Deep Design Thinking approach and innovative solutions that make V12 Design the perfect company to bring Brionvega back to life.
If you are curious to know more about V12 Design, don’t miss How Milanese company V12 Design merges the engineering approach with a design vision.
Materials & Techniques – Italian excellence
The icon, the past, the dream, the future, and the “Italianess” in design come together in V12 Design’s Alpha television. Featuring a 19 inch LCD screen and made mainly of high-quality polycarbonate and ABS plastic, the Alpha television brings to life a new era and the new generation of Brionvega products. Designed and engineered entirely by V12 Design, the Alpha consists of two sleek volumes joined by a high-quality chromed steel frame which not only works as a handle to move the TV around but also encases the power supply, video signal, and remote control cables.
Composed of a vertical and horizontal volume, the Alpha takes advantage of the innovative design and places in its vertical volume the LCD screen and buttons unobtrusively located at the top, and in the horizontal volume a DVD player, MP3 player, and high-quality speakers positioned inside the metal boxes serving as both, a sounding board and ballast to counterweight the screen. In order to cool the internal components of the Alpha television, V12 Design placed 2 lines of 4x4mm square holes that not only serve a purpose but also go along with the overall style.
Every element of the Alpha television was manufactured in Italy which required V12 Design to coordinate the production of the steel tubes and sheet metal chassis, injection molding components, die casting of speakers’ containers, front screen and overall finishes with different companies, showcasing the unique and intricate design and V12 Design’s quality of work.
Style & Aesthetics – Functional minimalism
Following a functional minimalism approach, V12 Design created the Alpha through a process of subtractive design. By placing only the elements needed, V12 Design strengthened the elegance, longevity, and functionality of the Alpha, creating yet another successful and timeless design. Due to its simple euclidean shapes, design elements such as surfaces and cylindrical forms, are able to interact with each other creating a visual dialogue unique to the Alpha.
Inspired by the timeless masterpieces of Bauhaus design and referenced in the carefully placed steel tubes that serve as a handle, V12 Design’s Alpha is able to pay homage to the Algol and its iconic handle feature. Maintaining it’s clean and minimal aesthetic throughout the whole design, buttons are unobtrusively positioned on top of the screen and only visible when walking towards the Alpha to turn it on and off.
V12 Design not only achieved longevity in the design but also in the choice of finishes used. The high-quality glossy spray paint and the transparent covering protect the Alpha from scratches and normal wear and tear. The design is offered in 3 colors: orange to pay homage to Brionvega, black and white versions to highlight the clean shapes, and a limited edition Alpha with a matte black soft-touch finish can be found.
Although every aspect of the Alpha is designed and manufactured in Italy, the only element made by a non-Italian company, and instead made in Austria, is the remote control. Its design follows the clean aesthetics of the Alpha and pays homage to Brionvega’s Cubo radio designed by Zanuso, adding overall a nostalgic feel. V12 Design not only took into consideration the aesthetics of the remote control but also the user experience. The carefully calculated pressing sensation, the shape of the buttons, and the added ballast of 20g of brass ensure a pleasant sensorial experience and the weight confers it more value.
Praised by concept stores and the Brionvega family
V12 Design not only created a timeless piece with the Alpha but also a commercially successful one. At 1200€ in price, the Alpha was sold in the best concept stores across the globe, some of which included Corso Como 10 in Milan and Colette in Paris. The Alpha was such a success that even fashion icon, Karl Lagerfeld, fell in love with the Alpha and bought 8 of them.
Besides creating an incredible product such as the Alpha, the greatest satisfaction for V12 Design came during the launch event of the product in Triennale di Milano in 2007. Despite the fact that the heirs of the Brionvega family had sold the company many years back, they attended the launch event and declared that the Alpha was the perfect embodiment of the values and DNA of the company, the one created by the founders back in the 70s. This statement not only provided V12 Design with enormous satisfaction but also confirmed that the mission of relaunching the brand while strengthening its value was achieved.
Design memento – Form follows function, for real
We often hear the phrase “form follows function” in the design world, it is a phrase that is often misused and exploited, rendering it meaningless. V12 Design, on the other hand, uses this phrase carefully and when they do say it, they mean it; the Alpha is a clear example of this, as it embodies this principle in every aspect of its design. Its beautiful and pleasing aesthetic originates from a functional approach, and it is the function itself that guides the design.
V12 Design believes the real role of a designer lies in this principle, where function is analyzed first in order to perfectly identify it, observe it and understand it so that it suggests the right forms and shapes, hence achieving a timeless design. It is through the “form follows function” principle that V12 Design is not only able to create a beautiful product but is also able to pay homage to the great and historic names of Italian design.
The writers’ comment – Timeless, functional and elegant
Fabio: “It was beautiful to discover how V12 Design applied its comprehensive knowledge to this project: every little detail of Alpha was carefully thought out and finely positioned to achieve an extraordinary result. The story of this project should be a valuable case study for every product designer concerned with going beyond pure aesthetics and beyond mere functionality, but striving for the combination of both.”
Adriana: “V12 Design made the Alpha television come to life with the simplicity and ingenuity of what makes “Italian Design”. Although some of its features may need a little update to fit the contemporary needs of current technology, its minimal and timeless design not only transports you back to better times but makes you wish every television would be a Brionvega one.”