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Radio in Cristallo

c. 1940/2021

by Franco Albini
for Cassina

Radio in Cristallo

by Franco Albini
for  Cassina

or Call to Order

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.


Franco Albini

Italy (1905–1977)

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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