Radio in Cristallo
Radio in Cristallo: A quest to uncover the essential
This radio, mounted between two supporting sheets of tempered glass, was originally conceived by Franco Albini as a prototype model for his own home in 1938. The idea was born when the architect received a traditional wooden-cased radio as a wedding present. Due to its embalmed and clumsy aspect, he decided to take apart and reassemble to maintain only its essential electrical components.
The project that Cassina proposes results today from a subsequent step developed by Albini for industrial production presented at the competition for modern furniture held by the Swiss company Wohnbedarf in Zurich in 1940.
Radio in Cristallo is a symbol of Franco Albini’s design method. The architect believed that this technological object, at the time contained in a cumbersome and above all incongruent wooden container, could be restored to authentic modernity. He wanted to show what he thought was necessary: the technical-functional components, by removing the excess material and breaking down the device to enhance the true essence of the project.
The radio is a clear sign of the transformation towards the modern. It represents the architect’s commitment to research and innovation while underlining his desire to develop alternative solutions, always inspired by those principles of simplicity and ‘lightness’ at the core of his method — the allure of the radio and its development with new tech essentials. The radio is a call for innovation, a communication device, revolutionary at the time and perhaps today, in contrast, that has always been loved for its great evocative capacity.
In close collaboration with the Fondazione Franco Albini, Cassina has developed the radio presented at the 1940 Wohnbedarf. This model, with identical proportions, follows the same concept as the radio disassembled for Albini’s own home but, probably aware of the difficulties for serial production, he decides to encase the technical part in a monolith suspended in the supporting glass structure.
Today the Radio in Cristallo has a state-of-the-art B&C speaker. FM radio and Bluetooth pairing functions can be navigated with the four stainless knobs on the front glass plate together with a 7″ display.
In a sign of authenticity, each radio bears the logo and signature of Franco Albini and the progressive number corresponding to the identity card that accompanies each piece, like all items in the Cassina I Maestri Collection.
The excellent sound performance of the radio can be further enhanced with an optional subwoofer that, thanks to the transmission of low frequencies, creates an even more immersive experience.
Born in Milan in 1905, Franco Albini's work spans across furniture design, product design, architecture, urban planning and interior design. His work was an integration of modern design and Italian craftsmanship. Through his product and furniture design, Albini celebrated the raw form of materials and transparent construction. Albini would forgo ornament and encasement of furniture, to allow the structure to be revealed. In 1939, he debuted a radio fully encased in glass to expose the inner workings. His most well-known work is the Albini Desk in 1949 for Knoll, which is still in production today. As a designer, he has collaborated with Gio Ponti, Franca Helg, as well as Helg and Bob Noorda.
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by John Pawson