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Oral-History:Jacob Jensen

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== About Jacob Jensen<br> ==
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== About Jacob Jensen  ==
  
Industrial designer Jacob Jensen was born in Copenhagen in 1926, the son of an upholsterer.&nbsp; Jensen left school at age thirteen for an upholstery apprenticeship, later returning to the School of Applied Arts in 1948, where he studied with Kaare Klint, Hans Wegner, and Jörn Utzon.&nbsp; From 1952 through 1958, Jensen worked at the Danish industrial design firm Bernadotte and Bjørn, taking leadership of the studio there in 1954.<br>  
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<p>[[Image:Jacob Jensen 2112(2).jpg|thumb|left|Jacob Jensen, 1996]] </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Industrial designer Jacob Jensen was born in Copenhagen in 1926, the son of an upholsterer.&nbsp; Jensen left school at age thirteen for an upholstery apprenticeship, later returning to the School of Applied Arts in 1948, where he studied with Kaare Klint, Hans Wegner, and Jörn Utzon. From 1952 through 1958, Jensen worked at the Danish industrial design firm Bernadotte and Bjørn, taking leadership of the studio there in 1954. In this interview, Jensen describes these periods of education and early employment, detailing electrical equipment design work he did at Bernadotte and Bjørn, as well as the work he performed in the United States for notable designers and firms including Raymond Loewy and General Electric. </p>
  
In this interview, Jensen describes his education and early employment, detailing electrical equipment design work he did at Bernadotte and Bjørn<br>
+
<p>After returning to Copenhagen, Jensen opened his own studio, Jacob Jensen Design, in 1958. Clients' familiarity with Jensen's work for Bernadotte and Bjørn led to the JJD studio's early design projects. Simultaneously, Jensen worked on hi-fi product design and operated the European branch for Latham, Tyler &amp; Jensen, a design firm with which he had worked in the U.S. In 1964 Jensen continued his work in hi-fi design for Bang &amp; Olufsen, leading to the Beomaster 5000 tuner and amplifier product marketed in 1967. This interview describes Jacob Jensen Design's collaborations with Bang &amp; Olufsen, which extended into the early 1990s. </p>
  
== About the Interview<br> ==
+
<p>In this interview, Jacob Jensen and his son Timothy Jacob Jensen consider the roles of design in shaping technological production. Jacob Jensen describes the formation of Jacob Jensen Design, detailing the studio's early work. He also details projects undertaken for Latham, Tyler &amp; Jensen and for Bang &amp; Olufsen. Timothy Jensen began collaborating with his father on Bang &amp; Olufsen projects in 1978, and he contributes to the discussion of design processes and working environments, as the interview considers the reputation and independence Jacob Jensen experienced as an industrial designer. The interview narrates the development of products including the Beocenter 9000 sound system product in the early 1980s and the Beogram 4000 turntable in the early 1970s as examples of Jacob Jensen's design collaborations with Bang &amp; Olufsen. Jacob Jensen assesses his designs' role in establishing Bang &amp; Olufsen's corporate identity, and he describes his participation in production and manufacturing as an external collaborator. Timothy and Jacob Jensen also offer their philosophies of design-driven product engineering. </p>
  
JACOB JENSEN: An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 23 July 1996
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<p>The oral histories of [[Oral-History:Jens Bang|Jens Bang]], [[Oral-History:Keld Harder|Keld Harder]], and [[Oral-History:Jorgen Palshoj|Jørgen Palshøj]] also cover the history of Bang &amp; Olufsen.&nbsp; Further information on Jacob Jensen Design can also be found at [http://www.jacobjensen.com Jacob Jensen's website.] </p>
  
<br>
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== About the Interview  ==
  
<br>  
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<p>JACOB JENSEN: An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 23 July 1996 </p>
  
Interview #308 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical And Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, the State Univiersity of New Jersey
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<p>Interview #308 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical And Electronics Engineers, Inc. </p>
  
<br>
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== Copyright Statement  ==
  
<br>  
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<p>This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center. </p>
  
== Copyright Statement<br> ==
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<p>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. </p>
  
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.<br><br>  
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<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Jacob Jensen, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
  
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. <br><br>
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== Interview  ==
  
<br>  
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<p>INTERVIEW: JACOB JENSEN with TIMOTHY JENSEN </p>
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br>Jacob Jensen, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.<br>  
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<p>INTERVIEWER: FREDERIK NEBEKER </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>PLACE: JUTLAND, DENMARK </p>
  
== Interview<br> ==
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<p>DATE: JULY 23, 1996 </p>
  
INTERVIEW: JACOB JENSEN with TIMOTHY JENSEN<br>INTERVIEWER: FREDERIK NEBEKER<br>PLACE: JUTLAND, DENMARK<br>DATE: JULY 23, 1996
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=== Education  ===
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
=== Education ===
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<p>I am talking with Jacob Jensen at his home in northern Jutland. This is Frederik Nebeker. Jacob Jensen's son Timothy Jacob Jensen is also here. Could we start with a very quick review of your career up to the time you began working with Bang &amp; Olufsen. Where were you born? </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p><flashmp3>308 - jensen - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3></p>
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 +
<p>I am born in 1926 in Copenhagen. I left school when I was thirteen because it didn't fit into the picture. So I started as an apprentice in furniture, and from when I was very young I was always playing with the drawings and models. I did a little more than most boys did. So when I was finished my student time as an apprentice in furniture I went into my father's welding shop. In that little shop I didn't have very much to do, so I began to design and make furniture as models and then we put them out in the window to see if anybody would salute, right? And we sold some of this furniture. And one day a guy came by his name was Koughn and he was an architect. He said, "Who has designed this furniture?" And my father said, "My son. He is playing around with this kind of nonsense." Then Mr. Koughn said this guy has potential because this is very unusual furniture, it is very interesting furniture. So after that, I went into the furniture. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>I then went back to school. I met some of the best people actually in this world in this area. The best one was maybe called Professor Kaare Klint. He is a classical designer of furniture and of course Hans Wegner. Jörn Utzon was the guy that made the Sydney Opera and many, many other things. At that time they were young, poor people that had jobs teaching these young kids. I was about twenty. </p>
 +
 
 +
=== Bernadotte and Bjørn ===
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>I was there for about three and a half years, and then I went across the street to Bernadotte and Bjørn. This is the first design company in Denmark. I said to them, "Gentlemen, I have to work here because I have to train and assist designer Jörn Utzen." They said "no way." So I went down in price, 6 krone per hour, 5 krone per hour, 4 krone per hour, 3 krone per hour, and then the [unintelligible passage]. The starting price was 2.25 krone per hour. One guy said to me "I don't care, I mean for this kind of money you can empty the paper basket and clean the floors." So I started there. I won a couple of competitions in furniture. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>That was is in '51? </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>Yes. And after a short period of time I came up to 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 krone in salary. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>So you very quickly became a designer. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>Yes, they realized that maybe I had something to produce. Mr. Bernadotte said that I had this intuition and understanding for forms and feelings and could present to the customer new ideas and new style ideas. This is the style my son Timothy and I still work towards. First of all, we developed strategies, and then after understanding all the troubles we'd go into the design and to the connection with the [unintelligible passage]. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>But to continue my story about my meeting with Bang &amp; Olufsen. I worked with Sigvard Bernadotte for seven years. After those seven years were up I had made a lot of products, many of them classical products. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>This is all furniture? </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>No, there was no furniture; it wasn't [unintelligible passage] to design. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>What sort of products? </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>Electrical equipment. There was no furniture; cooking stuff, porcelain, and everything. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I am talking with Jacob Jensen at his home in northern Jutland. This is Frederik Nebeker. Jacob Jensen's son Timothy Jacob Jensen is also here. Could we start with a very quick review of your career up to the time you began working with Bang &amp; Olufsen. Where were you born?<br>  
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<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What electrical equipment did you design? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>I am born in 1926 in Copenhagen. I left school when I was thirteen because it didn't fit into the picture. So I started as an apprentice in furniture, and from when I was very young I was always playing with the drawings and models. I did a little more than most boys did. So when I was finished my student time as an apprentice in furniture I went into my father's welding shop. In that little shop I didn't have very much to do, so I began to design and make furniture as models and then we put them out in the window to see if anybody would salute, right? And we sold some of this furniture. And one day a guy came by his name was Koughn and he was an architect. He said, "Who has designed this furniture?" And my father said, "My son. He is playing around with this kind of nonsense." Then Mr. Koughn said this guy has potential because this is very unusual furniture, it is very interesting furniture. So after that, I went into the furniture.
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>We made some x-ray machines, electrical typewriters, radios, telephones and an intercom system. </p>
  
<br>I then went back to school. I met some of the best people actually in this world in this area. The best one was maybe called Professor Kaare Klint. He is a classical designer of furniture and of course Hans Wegner. Jörn Utzon was the guy that made the Sydney Opera and many, many other things. At that time they were young, poor people that had jobs teaching these young kids. I was about twenty. <br>
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>
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<p>Duplication machines? </p>
  
=== Bernadotte and Bjørn<br> ===
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>
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<p>Different kinds of duplication machines. </p>
  
I was there for about three and a half years, and then I went across the street to Bernadotte and Bjørn. This is the first design company in Denmark. I said to them, "Gentlemen, I have to work here because I have to train and assist designer Jörn Utzen." They said "no way." So I went down in price, 6 krone per hour, 5 krone per hour, 4 krone per hour, 3 krone per hour, and then the [unintelligible passage]. The starting price was 2.25 krone per hour. One guy said to me "I don't care, I mean for this kind of money you can empty the paper basket and clean the floors." So I started there. I won a couple of competitions in furniture. <br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Were these for Danish manufacturers? </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>That was is in '51?<br>  
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<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Danish, Swedish, German manufacturers, mainly Danish-Swedish. Mr. Bernadotte is the Queen's brother. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. And after a short period of time I came up to 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 krone in salary.<br>  
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<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>The Queen mother's brother, Bernadotte. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So you very quickly became a designer.<br>  
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<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I mean I didn't know that when I came, but I learned that after a while. I was there about three or four months before I realized who he was. He was very surprised I didn't know that. But he was a beautiful person, and I was kind of a raw person that came from the bottom of the society, and he was absolutely at the top of society. Because he was made in the top of society he had this tolerance, he never said to me, "You shouldn't do that?" or "Why don't you behave differently?" </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, they realized that maybe I had something to produce. Mr. Bernadotte said that I had this intuition and understanding for forms and feelings and could present to the customer new ideas and new style ideas. This is the style my son Timothy and I still work towards. First of all, we developed strategies, and then after understanding all the troubles we'd go into the design and to the connection with the [unintelligible passage].
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I think this is taking a little nice story is that when Jacob and Sigvard Bernadotte they went to the Fieatiside, a hotel in Hamburg, and they were driving in this big Bentley of course and he has this big ox leather suitcase. He looks at Jacob and Jacob just has a toothbrush with some silver paper around it, and gives it to the guy and he says [unintelligible passage]. </p>
  
<br>But to continue my story about my meeting with Bang &amp; Olufsen. I worked with Sigvard Bernadotte for seven years. After those seven years were up I had made a lot of products, many of them classical products.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Even then, when I got to my room and I was sitting on the couch and said, "Jacob, this time you really have done it, you really overstepped the lines there." But then I came down to the bar before we had the dinner. So I came down to the bar ready to go, and all he said was, "Hello Jacob. What are you drinking tonight? I hope your room is good." That is style. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>This is all furniture?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It sounds like it was a fortunate position you had there to have a range of different products to design. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, there was no furniture; it wasn't [unintelligible passage] to design.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Oh, I think we made several hundred different products. All kinds of things. So it was a fantastic training. I only had a little training with Jörn Utzon in industrial design. I think that he started a class with 12 people and after a year there were only two people left, me and him. The other ones they went over to the furniture side. So I got the special training from him, and then I went into this at [unintelligible passage] and got to meet Mr. Bernadotte, and he took me under his arm you could say and I became the leader of the office within a few years, and we traveled. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>What sort of products?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So you were on your own already. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Electrical equipment. There was no furniture; cooking stuff, porcelain, and everything.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Completely. I never saw Mr. Bernadotte [unintelligible] but maybe one time. He had good taste and he had good intuition for the products. After I had been there for seven years I wanted see the world. At that time the only place in the world for industrial design was the United States. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>What electrical equipment did you design?<br>
+
=== Design work in the U.S.; Raymond Loewy, General Electric  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>We made some x-ray machines, electrical typewriters, radios, telephones and an intercom system.<br>  
+
<p>I got a stack of introductions from Bernadotte to all the best keys to all the best doors in the United States. I was very lucky again. I went to Walter Dorwin Teague and Raymond Loewy and you name it, they had [unintelligible passage], and every time. I had my portfolio with me, and they said, "It's wonderful, why don't you sit down and here's a pencil, go right ahead." I stopped in New York and worked for Raymond Loewy, and after that I worked in a plastics factory in Newcastle; I don't remember the name of it. And then I came to Chicago. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Duplication machines?<br>  
+
<p>You were actually hired at those places? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Different kinds of duplication machines.<br>  
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<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Were these for Danish manufacturers?<br>  
+
<p>For how long? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Danish, Swedish, German manufacturers, mainly Danish-Swedish. Mr. Bernadotte is the Queen's brother. <br>  
+
<p>Oh, for the first place I think about half a year. Some of the products they made [unintelligible passage] they produced it for twenty years. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>The Queen mother's brother, Bernadotte. <br>  
+
<p>What product was that? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>I mean I didn't know that when I came, but I learned that after a while. I was there about three or four months before I realized who he was. He was very surprised I didn't know that. But he was a beautiful person, and I was kind of a raw person that came from the bottom of the society, and he was absolutely at the top of society. Because he was made in the top of society he had this tolerance, he never said to me, "You shouldn't do that? or why don't you behave differently." .<br>  
+
<p>It is the Honeywell Tamistock line. Then some whisky bottles at another time. But that was my record. After that I went to Chicago and met at that time the top people in Chicago, Latham, Tyler, and [George] Jensen of Latham, Tyler &amp; Jensen. You are probably quite familiar with the name, Latham Tyler. They have a very good design office in Chicago. I came in with my little map and showed them my little, my photos, and they looked at it and said, "Can you sail?" I said, "Yes, I can sail." I had just been [unintelligible passage] here in Denmark so I was a very good sailor, so we went sailing. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>I think this is taking a little nice story is that when Jacob and Sigvard Bernadottethey went to the Fieatiside[spelling?], a hotel in Hamburg, and they were driving in this big Bentley of course and he has this big ox leather suitcase. He looks at Jacob and Jacob just has a toothbrush with some silver paper around it, and gives it to the guy and he says [unintelligible passage]. <br>  
+
<p>Just to complete the story, you finished the qualification for the Olympic games. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Even then, when I got to my room and I was sitting on the couch and said, "Jacob, this time you really have done it, you really overstepped the lines there." But then I came down to the bar before we had the dinner. So I came down to the bar ready to go, and all he said was, "Hello Jacob. What are you drinking tonight? I hope your room is good." That is style.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. So, I went sailing and we had a very good friendly relationship. And I did a lot of different things. I did a lot of things for General Electric and for different people. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>It sounds like it was a fortunate position you had there to have a range of different products to design.<br>  
+
<p>Do you remember exactly what you did for General Electric? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Oh, I think we made several hundred different products. All kinds of things. So it was a fantastic training. I only had a little training with Jörn Utzon in industrial design. I think that he started a class with 12 people and after a year there were only two people left, me and him. The other ones they went over to the furniture side. So I got the special training from him, and then I went into this at [unintelligible passage] and got to meet Mr. Bernadotte, and he took me under his arm you could say and I became the leader of the office within a few years, and we traveled. <br>  
+
<p>This was a [[Television|television]], [[Radio|radio]], this kind of equipment, [[Gramophone|gramophone]] just whatever. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So you were on your own already.<br>  
+
<p>So a number of things. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Completely. I never saw Mr. Bernadotte [unintelligible] but maybe one time. He had good taste and he had good intuition for the products. After I had been there for seven years I wanted see the world. At that time the only place in the world for industrial design was the United States. I got a stack of introductions from Bernadotte to all the best keys to all the best doors in the United States. I was very lucky again. I went to Walter Dorwin Teague and Raymond Loewy nd you name it, they had [unintelligible passage], and every time. I had my portfolio with me, and they said, "It's wonderful, why don't you sit down and here's a pencil, go right ahead." I stopped in New York and worked for Raymond Loewy, and after that I worked in a plastics factory in Newcastle; I don't remember the name of it. And then I came to Chicago.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. They even produced them I think. But then I worked there, and then I went to the west coast, just north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and worked there for a while. Then I went back to Denmark. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>You were actually hired at those places?<br>  
+
<p>Your intention all along was just to get some experience in the United States? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, just to see something else, try to see something else, work with something else. In Santa Barbara they had a very interesting technique. They got an idea, it could be an egg beater, you name it, and then we developed it completely, designed it, developed it mechanically, collectively, and then we went out to a company and said, "What about this?" </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>For how long?<br>  
+
<p>Do you remember the name of that company? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Oh, for the first place I think about half a year. Some of the products they made [unintelligible passage] they produced it for twenty years.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, that was Lathen, Tyler &amp; Jensen at Shushay, and the guy's name was MacFarland. They had a beautiful old church, a wooden church there that was a beautiful place. Then I went back to Denmark, and I promised Bernadotte I would work with him for one year after I came back, so I did that. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Jacob Jensen Design  ===
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>What product was that?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And then I started my own little business in Copenhagen, after [unintelligible passage] somewhere in the middle of Copenhagen, and ten minutes after I had opened the first of January the telephone was ringing at ten minutes past nine and that was the first client, because it was a company I had been working for here Peanates , All Class Peanates. I had been working for them when I was working for Bernadotte. And they were used to me and they did-- I mean we only worked together when Bernadotte and [unintelligible passage], so when I left there they didn't want to start all over again, so they just called me and said would you like to continue, and I said of course, and that one client was the GN Danavox. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>It is the Honeywell Tamistock [spelling?] line. Then some whisky bottles at another time. But that was my record. After that I went to Chicago and met at that time the top people in Chicago, Latham, Tyler, and Jensen of Latham, Tyler &amp; Jensen. You are probably quite familiar with the name, Latham Tyler. They have a very good design office in Chicago. I came in with my little map and showed them my little, my photos, and they looked at it and said, "Can you sail?" I said, "Yes, I can sail." I had just been [unintelligible passage] here in Denmark so I was a very good sailor, so we went sailing.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Hearing aids was the first product you designed on your own there? </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Just to complete the story, you finished the qualification for the Olympic games. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, everything behind the hearing process. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. So, I went sailing and we had a very good friendly relationship. And I did a lot of different things. I did a lot of things for General Electric and for different people.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So that was the very beginning of the transistorized hearing aid, so that must have been one of the very first of those designs. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Do you remember exactly what you did for General Electric?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. The first one we did we had some bakelite. it was a [unintelligible passage] form, a little wooden thing we pressed down in the mold when it was hot, cut it off and fit it all in there, so you have a hearing aid where your ears were sitting like that. But that was a beginning, and we had a wonderful time in this factory and sold them at the time. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>This was a television, radio, this kind of equipment, gramophone just whatever.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You were actually involved in the production? </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So a number of things.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. It became one of the best hearing aids companies twenty years later, and Denmark actually became famous for the hearing aids. Not because of me, but because that these people they saw the possibility of transistorizing both things. And this was the beginning. Then the next client was also somebody I had been working for with Bernadotte and Bjorn, and this was a duplicator dictating machine. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. They even produced them I think. But then I worked there, and then I went to the west coast, just north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and worked there for a while. Then I went back to Denmark.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>A tape recorder dictating machine? </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Your intention all along was just to get some experience in the United States?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>There was a record, a magnetic record, and then offsets, a different kind of offset machine. Small duplicators, the whole line. There were many, many products that I did at that time. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, just to see something else, try to see something else, work with something else. In Santa Barbara they had a very interesting technique. They got an idea, it could be an egg beater, you name it, and then we developed it completely, designed it, developed it mechanically, collectively, and then we went out to a company and said, "What about this?" <br>
+
=== Running European branch for Latham, Tyler &amp; Jensen ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Do you remember the name of that company?<br>  
+
<p>But then as soon as I started them I had the agreement with Latham Tyler that I would be their associate in Denmark. Then I went to Europe and I worked together with them for 15 to 20 years. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, that was Lathen, Tyler &amp; Jameson [spelling?] at Shushay [spelling?], and the guy's name was MacFarland. They had a beautiful old church, a wooden church there that was a beautiful place. Then I went back to Denmark, and I promised Bernadotte I would work with him for one year after I came back, so I did that. And then I started my own little business in Copenhagen, after [unintelligible passage] somewhere in the middle of Copenhagen, and ten minutes after I had opened the first of January the telephone was ringing at ten minutes past nine and that was the first client, because it was a company I had been working for here Peanates [spelling?], All Class Peanates [?]. I had been working for them when I was working for Bernadotte. And they were used to me and they did-- I mean we only worked together when Bernadotte and [unintelligible passage], so when I left there they didn't want to start all over again, so they just called me and said would you like to continue, and I said of course, and that one client was the GN Danavox.<br>  
+
<p>You were in contact with Latham until he died three years ago. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Hearing aids was the first product you designed on your own there?<br>  
+
<p>What does that mean, being their man in Europe? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, everything behind the hearing process.<br>  
+
<p>Being the European branch office. Yes. I think they came this way that they would like me to continue the work on generators and they would like to do it, and then they asked me at one point could you please look into the future and see what does the future hi-fi scene look like. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So that was the very beginning of the transistorized hearing aid, so that must have been one of the very first of those designs.<br>  
+
<p>This is [[General Electric (GE)|General Electric]]? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. The first one we did we had some bakelite. it was a [unintelligible passage] form, a little wooden thing we pressed down in the mold when it was hot, cut it off and fit it all in there, so you have a hearing aid where your ears were sitting like that. But that was a beginning, and we had a wonderful time in this factory and sold them at the time. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. And we did that. At that time they had a different office down by Forein Cellen, Bosken Forein, and I did what you see here. So, what I did was after I had been thinking about it, I did this in 1963, an it was taking over to the electrical percentage on that, and all this is just by that time a fantastic strange thing because nothing like that had ever been seen before. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>You were actually involved in the production?<br>  
+
<p>They are very flat. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No. It became one of the best hearing aids companies twenty years later, and Denmark actually became famous for the hearing aids. Not because of me, but because that these people they saw the possibility of transistorizing both things. And this was the beginning. Then the next client was also somebody I had been working for with Bernadotte and Bjorn, and this was a duplicator dictating machine.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, small sliders, you can see them here. And many details, the steel nut with the little hole in, this is all flat and thin. This is in 1963, and General Electric, the start of the leading directorate for their strategy set, the year 2000 maybe. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>A tape recorder dictating machine?<br>  
+
<p>Now did you know that this kind of design was actually technically feasible? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>There was a record, a magnetic record, and then offsets, a different kind of offset machine. Small duplicators, the whole line. There were many, many products that I did at that time. But then as soon as I started them I had the agreement with Latham Tyler that I would be their associate in Denmark. Then I went to Europe and I worked together with them for 15 to 20 years.<br>  
+
<p>No. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>You were in contact with Latham until he died three years ago.<br>  
+
<p>You knew about [[Transistors|transistors]] and you knew that probably you could completely transistorize a [[Phonograph|phonograph]]. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>What does that mean, being their man in Europe?<br>  
+
<p>Yes, I knew that if they wanted to put the effort into it they could do it. Okay, we will fight about the height, a few millimeter here and this kind of dimensions. By that time [I] had been in the business for ten years. So I knew what was possible and what was not possible. But for them it was not the problem of being able to produce it, that was not the drawback. They just thought it was too bloody wild. This is way off they said. But the end of the story is that later we presented it to [[General Electric (GE)|General Electric]]. They said "Gee, this is [unintelligible passage]." </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Bang &amp; Olufsen; radio amplifier design  ===
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Being the European branch office. Yes. I think they came this way that they would like me to continue the work on generators and they would like to do it, and then they asked me at one point could you please look into the future and see what does the future hi-fi scene look like.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Then after a couple of years I began to work for Bang &amp; Olufsen. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>This is General Electric?<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In '64. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. And we did that. At that time they had a different office down by Forein Cellen [spelling&nbsp;?], Bosken Forein [spelling?], and I did what you see here. So, what I did was after I had been thinking about it, I did this in 1963, an it was taking over to the electrical percentage on that, and all this is just by that time a fantastic strange thing because nothing like that had ever been seen before.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What? </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>They are very flat.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In '64. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, small sliders, you can see them here. And many details, the steel nut with the little hole in, this is all flat and thin. This is in 1963, and General Electric, the start of the leading directorate for their strategy set, the year 2000 maybe.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In '64. That's three years later. So I had all this when I started working for them, and did the same thing again. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Now did you know that this kind of design was actually technically feasible?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>How did the connection come about, your first connection with Bang &amp; Olufsen? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well I had been working for a radio television factory in Copenhagen that was called Toer, and I made an amplifier for them. It was extruded, it was very advanced at the time. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>You knew about transistors and you knew that probably you could completely transistorize a phonograph.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This was around 1960? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, I knew that if they wanted to put the effort into it they could do it. Okay, we will fight about the height, a few millimeter here and this kind of dimensions. By that time [I] had been in the business for ten years. So I knew what was possible and what was not possible. But for them it was not the problem of being able to produce it, that was not the drawback. They just thought it was too bloody wild. This is way off they said. But the end of the story is that later we presented it to General Electric. They said "Gee, this is [unintelligible passage]." Then after a couple of years I began to work for Bang &amp; Olufsen.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. And it came on the market and Bang &amp; Olufsen saw that and said, "Oops we had better get hold of this guy because this looks like danger." </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>In '64.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In those days was the designer publicly associated with the product? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>What?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>In '64.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>But not in terms of marketing. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>In '64. That's three years later. So I had all this when I started working for them, and did the same thing again.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So in '64 you made contact with you. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>How did the connection come about, your first connection with Bang &amp; Olufsen?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>They came to me and asked me if I would do something for them, and I said we can try, and the first thing I did we have standing out here. I had been working at [[General Electric (GE)|General Electric]] and I had this all planned, in my brain I knew all the tactical angles we want to do and all that. So I did this thing for them and presented it to them, and they said, "Okay. Why don't you do that." There was a complete switch coming from them. They had nothing like it. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Well I had been working for a radio television factory in Copenhagen that was called Toer [spelling&nbsp;?], and I made an amplifier for them. It was extruded, it was very advanced at the time.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What was the product? </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>This was around 1960?<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It was a tuner and an amplifier. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. And it came on the market and Bang &amp; Olufsen saw that and said, "Oops we had better get hold of this guy because this looks like danger."<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Okay. This is the Beomaster 5000. In 1967 it was marketed. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>In those days was the designer publicly associated with the product?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. So I came with this solution and presented it to that guy that was leading the project, his name was Roderik Madsen. [[Oral-History:Jens Bang|Jens Bang]] was not in the picture at all at that time. And we took it to the factory and [unintelligible passage] looked at it and said, "Gee, but that's something entirely different. We have never done that before." But they agreed, and I think this is probably one of the fantastic things about Bang &amp; Olufsen that they saw a possibility to get away from everybody else. Or, you could say the opposite, you could say there was nobody powerful enough to stop it. I mean this is very often the situation. Here you have strong people, they say this is right thing, let's do it, or there is no strong people, there is nobody that can stop it. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes <br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You mean in the organization, in the company. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>But not in terms of marketing. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And then it just kind of happens; nobody can stop it. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So in '64 you made contact with you.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Just because a designer has been asked to propose something, you are saying if there is no strong person within the company it may just fade away? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>They came to me and asked me if I would do something for them, and I said we can try, and the first thing I did we have standing out here. I had been working at General Electric and I had this all planned, in my brain I knew all the tactical angles we want to do and all that. So I did this thing for them and presented it to them, and they said, "Okay. Why don't you do that." There was a complete switch coming from them. They had nothing like it.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>They will say, "Well I don't know, okay, what?" And then one day it is finished and in production. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>What was the product?<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I remember when I started working here in '78, Jacob told me about Bang &amp; Olufsen and all the other companies. What you do is you go in there, you take the ball away from them, play it gently so everybody can see you, you know, just, you know, don't shoot it too fast. Just play it nicely in the direction that you believe and they will follow you, kind of thing. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>It was a tuner and an amplifier.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Let me ask a little bit about this. One thing that strikes me about it is that well, of course it is a very flat design, this kind of tuner is special, the cabinet is somewhat unusual, it is not the usual frame around... </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Okay. This is the Beomaster 5000. In 1967 it was marketed.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, there is just the top and the sides is black metal. It is just a piece of wood on the top. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. So I came with this solution and presented it to that guy that was leading the project, his name was Roderik Madsen [spelling?]. Jens Bang was not in the picture at all at that time. And we took it to the factory and [unintelligible passage] looked at it and said, "Gee, but that's something entirely different. We have never done that before." But they agreed, and I think this is probably one of the fantastic things about Bang &amp; Olufsen that they saw a possibility to get away from everybody else. Or, you could say the opposite, you could say there was nobody powerful enough to stop it. I mean this is very often the situation. Here you have strong people, they say this is right thing, let's do it, or there is no strong people, there is nobody that can stop it.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Now for a long time radios and other products were made on a metal chassis that was then inserted in a cabinet, a wooden cabinet. Is that still the case with this one or is this one... </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>You mean in the organization, in the company.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, none of the things are actually mounted on the front and pushed into it, and then you have these four bracket screws that looks very mechanical. But a product like that, you know, you can put it in production today. It is not old; it hasn't duplicated... </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>And then it just kind of happens; nobody can stop it.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In terms of design. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Just because a designer has been asked to propose something, you are saying if there is no strong person within the company it may just fade away?.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Right. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>They will say, "Well I don't know, okay, what?" And then one day it is finished and in production.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I'd like to understand better exactly your input in this product. When you proposed-- so they told you that they are interested in a new radio amplifier. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>I remember when I started working here in '78, Jacob told me about Bang &amp; Olufsen and all the other companies. What you do is you go in there, you take the ball away from them, play it gently so everybody can see you, you know, just, you know, don't shoot it too fast. Just play it nicely in the direction that you believe and they will follow you, kind of thing.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. And that's all. Then they would like to use, what do you call it, slide potentiometer and they should have four, one right after another. This was actually the length of the deck. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Let me ask a little bit about this. One thing that strikes me about it is that well, of course it is a very flat design, this kind of tuner is special, the cabinet is somewhat unusual, it is not the usual frame around...<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I see, so they gave you a sort of a dimension because they needed... </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, there is just the top and the sides is black metal. It is just a piece of wood on the top.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, they gave me this slide potentiometer and said we want them put somewhere. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Now for a long time radios and other products were made on a metal chassis that was then inserted in a cabinet, a wooden cabinet. Is that still the case with this one or is this one...<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, none of the things are actually mounted on the front and pushed into it, and then you have these four bracket [?] screws that looks very mechanical. But a product like that, you know, you can put it in production today. It is not old; it hasn't duplicated..<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And this is important, and then whatever you do else is up to you, and they had no influence at all about how it was developed and what was going on. And then I came and said, "Well, that's the way I see it." Then they said, "Okay, let's try this." </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>In terms of design.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So in the beginning, was it basically the general layout that you proposed or did you actually from the beginning design the way the cabinet was built with everything outside? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Right.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, with everything outside. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I'd like to understand better exactly your input in this product. When you proposed-- so they told you that they are interested in a new radio amplifier.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The transformers I know are quite important. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. And that's all. Then they would like to use, what do you call it, slide potentiometer and they should have four, one right after another. This was actually the length of the deck. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, the height of the transformer and the air that goes to the transformer, and then what should be on the damned thing. And that's all. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I see, so they gave you a sort of a dimension because they needed...<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You got that information from them, you got some basic dimensions? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, they gave me this slide potentiometer and said we want them put somewhere.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, the height and full potentiometer. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I see.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And those are basic components I would say. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>And this is important, and then whatever you do else is up to you, and they had no influence at all about how it was developed and what was going on. And then I came and said, "Well, that's the way I see it." Then they said, "Okay, let's try this."<br>
+
=== Beocenter 9000, Beogram 4000 development  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So in the beginning, was it basically the general layout that you proposed or did you actually from the beginning design the way the cabinet was built with everything outside?<br>  
+
<p>But just to give you maybe a better understanding, I will show you some slides later so you can see our working method. But if you take that piece over there, the Beoenter 9000, when we made that here. Jacob had meetings with the Bang &amp; Olufsen development people every Wednesday. When I joined in '78 and I was just sitting there like a fly on the wall listening, and they would say they had to make a new piece. They had been successful with the previous center which has a tape deck, a turntable and a radio, so they thought they should do something more. They started looking into the CD market. And from that, we define the concept. Tape deck, CD, radio, we made 76 models of that in one-to-one before we were satisfied. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, with everything outside.<br>  
+
<p>Is that right? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>The transformers I know are quite important. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, the height of the transformer and the air that goes to the transformer, and then what should be on the damned thing. And that's all.<br>  
+
<p>Physical models? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>You got that information from them, you got some basic dimensions?<br>  
+
<p>Physical models. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, the height and full potentiometer.<br>  
+
<p>The idea of this lit [unintelligible] Now see, this idea of this [unintelligible passage] has never been done before. [unintelligible passage] but they could see this is the future. Nobody else had that. But all this comes from [unintelligible passage] input, output [unintelligible passage]. So we bring this in and say, "Okay [unintelligible passage]." </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>And those are basic components I would say. But just to give you maybe a better understanding, I will show you some slides later so you can see our working method. But if you take that piece over there, the Beoenter 9000, when we made that here. Jacob had meetings with the Bang &amp; Olufsen development people every Wednesday. When I joined in '78 and I was just sitting there like a fly on the wall listening, and they would say they had to make a new piece. They had been successful with the previous center which has a tape deck, a turntable and a radio, so they thought they should do something more. They started looking into the CD market. And from that, we define the concept. Tape deck, CD, radio, we made 76 models of that in one-to-one before we were satisfied.<br>  
+
<p>It probably picked up most of that, but that was the Beocenter 9000. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Is that right?<br>  
+
<p>Yes, but I mean that's twenty years later. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Yes..<br>  
+
<p>Yes, right, but just so we have the basic story on that, when was that completed? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Physical models?<br>  
+
<p>This one? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Physical models. .<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>The idea of this lit [ unintelligible] Now see, this idea of this [unintelligible passage] has never been done before. [unintelligible passage] but they could see this is the future. Nobody else had that. But all this comes from [unintelligible passage] input, output [unintelligible passage]. So we bring this in and say, "Okay [unintelligible passage]."<br>  
+
<p>Early '80s. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>It probably picked up most of that, but that was the Beocenter 9000.<br>  
+
<p>In the early '80s and you said it went through in your hands 76 prototypes before you had design models. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Yes, but I mean that's twenty years later.<br>  
+
<p>Conceptual design models. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, right, but just so we have the basic story on that, when was that completed?<br>  
+
<p>You put it on the table here and they are going to say what is wrong with it now? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>This one?<br>  
+
<p>That is like everything that we do in this house, and that is the way we have been doing it for thirty years. We work and we rework and we rework and we rework until it is correct. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>For instance that gramophone you like out there is I think one of the better things [unintelligible passage]. But this made with no influence at all from Bang &amp; Olufsen. Not only the design, but the insides, the engineering, every damn bit is made outside of the company. One day we decided to make a gramophone. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Early '80s.<br>  
+
<p>You mean you personally, or this is meeting with Bang &amp; Olufsen? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>In the early '80s and you said it went through in your hands 76 prototypes before you had design models. <br>  
+
<p>No, in connection with this meeting. I mean this has worked that way all the years I've worked with these people. And it is a good way of working, and they are good people to work with. So they started with one group at Bang &amp; Olufsen and one group outside. I was in the outside group, and there was me and my old friend Mr. Zeuthen, a genius of an engineer. So we made a proposal, and that's what you see out there. I made the design and he made the idea with the two arms. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Conceptual design models.<br>  
+
<p>Parallel tracking. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>You put it on the table here and they are going to say what is wrong with it now? <br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>That is like everything that we do in this house, and that is the way we have been doing it for thirty years. We work and we rework and we rework and we rework until it is correct.<br>  
+
<p>Now he was an electrical engineer? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>For instance that gramophone you like out there is I think one of the better things [unintelligible passage]. But this made with no influence at all from Bang &amp; Olufsen. Not only the design, but the insides, the engineering, every damn bit is made outside of the company. One day we decided to make a gramophone.<br>  
+
<p>He could do everything. He was an electrical engineer, he was a mechanical engineer, he could do optics. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>You mean you personally, or this is meeting with Bang &amp; Olufsen?<br>  
+
<p>He was a genius. He engineered the only Danish airplanes ever, the Kay-Zed, small aircraft. They are still in the air when the wind was against them. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, in connection with this meeting. I mean this has worked that way all the years I've worked with these people. And it is a good way of working, and they are good people to work with. So they started with one group at Bang &amp; Olufsen and one group outside. I was in the outside group, and there was me and my old friend Mr. Zeuthen, a genius of an engineer. So we made a proposal, and that's what you see out there. I made the design and he made the idea with the two arms.<br>  
+
<p>And he had made orders for this duplicating office equipment. That was also him. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Parallel tracking.<br>  
+
<p>So you had worked with him before? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>Oh, yes, many years before. So what happened was that we had decided why don't you guys try outside and we will try inside to see who will get the best result, and there was this kind of free competition and a good atmosphere. So Zeuthen and I we went home and we made some ideas and he made some ideas, and finally we went down in his basement. He had a beautiful villa and in the basement he had all the most delicate equipment and machinery, of all kinds of machinery, because he made all this, [unintelligible passage] and big, big telescopes. And we came to that solution there and put it on the table and everybody said "Wow" because nobody had seen this kind of arm before. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Now he was an electrical engineer?<br>  
+
<p>Yes, that's one idea. What's the idea with the pair of arms? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>He could do everything. He was an electrical engineer, he was a mechanical engineer, he could do optics.<br>  
+
<p>Well one is obviously a pick up, right? This is an arm that goes in and sees this stripes on there. So at that time, even a little recorder, there is no record and it will speed up to 45 and then, here is the record, there is a record on but it is a little record, change the speed and then it drops and then it plays the 45. So the thing was that when they saw that, and I think maybe as you and me and many, many other people got a little bit involved in it. So they decided to try it in the market and it went out to try in the market, and I think the Danish, what is it called, [unintelligible passage] two or three you could price that two or three, because it is an expensive thing, and the export marks up maybe fifty. But, then as I said it is the beautiful part of the spirit of Bang &amp; Olufsen is that they say, "Goddamn, we like it, we believe it, we will do it anyway, we will take the chance and do it." And that's the very spirit. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>He was a genius. He engineered the only Danish airplanes ever, the Kay-Zed [?], small aircraft. They are still in the air when the wind was against them.<br>  
+
<p>Now, just to get it on the tape, this is the Beogram 4000, completed in '72 that we are talking about, right?. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>And he had made orders for this duplicating office equipment. That was also him. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So you had worked with him before?<br>  
+
<p>And the beauty of that product is that ever since that Bang &amp; Olufsen made turntables that was like the mother of all turntables ever made after that one. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Bang &amp; Olufsen business models, production  ===
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Oh, yes, many years before. So what happened was that we had decided why don't you guys try outside and we will try inside to see who will get the best result, and there was this kind of free competition and a good atmosphere. So Zeuthen and I we went home and we made some ideas and he made some ideas, and finally we went down in his basement. He had a beautiful villa and in the basement he had all the most delicate equipment and machinery, of all kinds of machinery, because he made all this, [unintelligible passage] and big, big telescopes. And we came to that solution there and put it on the table and everybody said "Wow" because nobody had seen this kind of arm before.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And then they went out and then they produced it and put it in the market and it became a success, people said that is something fine. But from the very beginning and all through the products they have done, and still I am going to have to say that even what they do today, is so much influenced by all this pioneer work that was done way back then. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, that's one idea. What's the idea with the pair of arms?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>To try to understand a little better this particular product, there are a number of new ideas here, it seems to me, the sensor arm, the parallel tracking, the extremely flat look of this thing, and the very flat control panel, this seems quite unusual. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Well one is obviously a pick up, right? This is an arm that goes in and sees this stripes on there. So at that time, even a little recorder, there is no record and it will speed up to 45 and then, here is the record, there is a record on but it is a little record, change the speed and then it drops and then it plays the 45. So the thing was that when they saw that, and I think maybe as you and me and many, many other people got a little bit involved in it. So they decided to try it in the market and it went out to try in the market, and I think the Danish, what is it called, [unintelligible passage] two or three you could price that two or three, because it is an expensive thing, and the export marks up maybe fifty. But, then as I said it is the beautiful part of the spirit of Bang &amp; Olufsen is that they say, "Goddamn, we like it, we believe it, we will do it anyway, we will take the chance and do it." And that's the very spirit.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So what happened was Mr. Latham, a big shot in strategy and design, said to Bang &amp; Olufsen and he has also said it to [[General Electric (GE)|General Electric]], "If you have this, have seen and understood that, you would have been as successful Bang &amp; Olufsen in the world and maybe the American consumer electronics industry. Maybe if you had been able to do this, maybe there would be a chance that it wouldn't die." But it did die and no one cared And I think this is a very interesting point that he could see this and say, "If you had gone to General Electric they would have been the Bang &amp; Olufsen." </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Now, just to get it on the tape, this is the Beogram 4000, completed in '72 that we are talking about, right?.<br>
+
'''Nebeker:'''
  
<br>  
+
<p>Now, I can imagine that when you come to Bang &amp; Olufsen with this proposal, they say, "Oh that's very interesting and very clever and so on, but it is going to be terribly expensive to develop the controls for that to make it that flat, you know, the manufacturing costs are going to be very high." Don't you get that kind of response? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, but that was the response, and that's why when they took it out to dealer's to the statistical [unintelligible passage] who sold that gramophone [unintelligible passage]. So he cannot sell it because we can see in the statistics that we don't sell gramophones to [unintelligible passage] because it had never been done before. But maybe he sells a few to some nuts that are around. But they believe [in] the product, and it got this attention and it was a success. Many of these products were designed for Bang &amp; Olufsen. Very often had this attitude when it is shown, well, isn't that too strange? Not in the factory so much because [[Oral-History:Jens Bang|Jens Bang]] and [[Oral-History:Knud Holst|Knute Holst]] who I understand you will interview tomorrow. It was Holst, Myrapea and Harver and Jens and me. This was a group that was working with this thing. I was an idea and design guy, as you can understand, and, Jens was the statistic feeling for what is going on in the world, that was his job. We worked with a team of technical engineers, and Kemp was the sales man. This was the four people who were running this factory for a long, long time, all done there, all developed there. And I remember we had a very good director, Olaf Goul. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>And the beauty of that product is that ever since that Bang &amp; Olufsen made turntables that was like the mother of all turntables ever made after that one.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>But there must have been some back and forth with the engineers who know production techniques who would say, "Well, that's a very good idea but if we do it a little bit differently we can make the price a lot lower." </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>And then they went out and then they produced it and put it in the market and it became a success, people said that is something fine. But from the very beginning and all through the products they have done, and still I am going to have to say that even what they do today, is so much influenced by all this pioneer work that was done way back then.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, that happens all the time, but mainly I would say that, and this is maybe one of Jens' bigger forces, that if he could see, we could see, that it would roll the basic design, the basic feeling, the basic understanding, the basic vibration money for the products. Then they were beginning to pay that extra because it was an essential for selling the product, that it had that special thing around it. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>To try to understand a little better this particular product, there are a number of new ideas here, it seems to me, the sensor arm, the parallel tracking, the extremely flat look of this thing, and the very flat control panel, this seems quite unusual.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I think you said it very clear once, and I think that had become a culture of Bang &amp; Olufsen, that Jacob says once I was sitting out with him or whatever it was, that anyone here in Bang &amp; Olufsen that believes that we are manufacturing hi-fi and television should be sacked or at least retrained because that we are not. We are making lifestyle here. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>So what happened was Mr. Latham, a big shot in strategy and design, said to Bang &amp; Olufsen and he has also said it to General Electric, "If you have this, have seen and understood that, you would have been as successful Bang &amp; Olufsen in the world and maybe the American consumer electronics industry. Maybe if you had been able to do this, maybe there would be a chance that it wouldn't die." But it did die and no one cared And I think this is a very interesting point that he could see this and say, "If you had gone to General Electric they would have been the Bang &amp; Olufsen."<br>  
+
<p>And that was their survival that they found this niche, they found this world, because everybody else, as Jacob started saying earlier this morning, that everybody else that was in northern Europe everybody died. There was heaps of those kinds of manufacturers, but they didn't have any idea, any profile, any identity. </p>
  
<br> '''Nebeker:'''<br>Now, I can imagine that when you come to Bang &amp; Olufsen with this proposal, they say, "Oh that's very interesting and very clever and so on, but it is going to be terribly expensive to develop the controls for that to make it that flat, you know, the manufacturing costs are going to be very high." Don't you get that kind of response?<br>
+
=== Design and engineering  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, but that was the response, and that's why when they took it out to dealer's to the statistical [unintelligible passage] who sold that gramophone [unintelligible passage]. So he cannot sell it because we can see in the statistics that we don't sell gramophones to [unintelligible passage] because it had never been done before. But maybe he sells a few to some nuts that are around. But they believe [in] the product, and it got this attention and it was a success. Many of these products were designed for Bang &amp; Olufsen. Very often had this attitude when it is shown, well, isn't that too strange? Not in the factory so much because Jens Bang and Knute Holst who I understand you will interview tomorrow. It was Holst, Myrapea [?] and Harver [?] and Jens and me. This was a group that was working with this thing. I was an idea and design guy, as you can understand, and, Jens was the statistic feeling for what is going on in the world, that was his job. We worked with a team of technical engineers, and Kemp was the sales man. This was the four people who were running this factory for a long, long time, all done there, all developed there. And I remember we had a very good director, Olaf Goul. <br>  
+
<p>Now, so you deliver this design and there is some back and forth. When they actually go to production, do they sometimes make changes in the appearance of the product without consulting you? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>But there must have been some back and forth with the engineers who know production techniques who would say, "Well, that's a very good idea but if we do it a little bit differently we can make the price a lot lower."<br>  
+
<p>No. What happens is that becomes a circumstance in the product the way it should look and the specification and all this, and by that time we call in production people. But of course in that group we are talking about is an engineer sitting all the time saying, "I don't think so. That would be very difficult. Well then, maybe it could be done, it will be difficult, but let's try. Let's see if we can invent something so it can be done." The trick is, very simple, the trick is to make the product so attractive that everybody wants to make the solution so it works. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, that happens all the time, but mainly I would say that, and this is maybe one of Jens' bigger forces, that if he could see, we could see, that it would roll the basic design, the basic feeling, the basic understanding, the basic vibration money for the products. Then they were beginning to pay that extra because it was an essential for selling the product, that it had that special thing around it.<br>  
+
<p>So you are sort of where you can push the engineering? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>I think you said it very clear once, and I think that had become a culture of Bang &amp; Olufsen, that Jacob says once I was sitting out with him or whatever it was, that anyone here in Bang &amp; Olufsen that believes that we are manufacturing hi-fi and television should be sacked or at least retrained because that we are not. We are making lifestyle here.  
+
<p>I wouldn't say that it's a matter of pushing the engineering; it's a matter of getting the engineer, the production engineer, to taking into reality, to get him to fall in love with it. He wants to do that. I don't think I ever had a fight with the engineers, I have been working together with them where it had been a matter of inspiring the engineers, and understand the problems of cost, understand the production technique, yes you have to as a designer, understand the weighing technique, the casting technique, the bending technique, all these possibilities because if you cannot do that they no longer talk to you. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well also there are genuine technical limits to how flat something can be or how light something can be? At any particular stage if in the 1920s a designer said I want a radio to be pocket sized? I mean there are limits to how flat it can be? </p>
  
And that was their survival that they found this niche, they found this world, because everybody else, as Jacob started saying earlier this morning, that everybody else that was in northern Europe everybody died. There was heaps of those kinds of manufacturers, but they didn't have any idea, any profile, any identity. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well I don't think there are limits to the imagination. What we have done and what Timothy and I have done together [unintelligible passage]. But you will have a thing like that and there will be no mechanism in it, but not all of these stupid things, but it will be a small [unintelligible passage] or whatever it is in there. Well if that is the case, what should it look like then? Let's see that. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Now, so you deliver this design and there is some back and forth. When they actually go to production, do they sometimes make changes in the appearance of the product without consulting you?<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>We have done it recently with Gaggenau Hausgeräte the German manufacturer of kitchen appliances. And, we've done it with Bang &amp; Olufsen together with Gibbs Bang in the beginning of the '80s. We literally filled up this room with cardboard studies, concept models, and you can see some of them are coming into production now. You know, we made a whole kind of black box system and [unintelligible passage] remote controls, and you name it. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No. What happens is that becomes a circumstance in the product the way it should look and the specification and all this, and by that time we call in production people. But of course in that group we are talking about is an engineer sitting all the time saying, "I don't think so. That would be very difficult. Well then, maybe it could be done, it will be difficult, but let's try. Let's see if we can invent something so it can be done." The trick is, very simple, the trick is to make the product so attractive that everybody wants to make the solution so it works.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So what you are saying is that the designer shouldn't be constrained by the present technology. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So you are sort of where you can push the engineering?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, not at the beginning. Timothy has a very interesting book: </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>I wouldn't say that it's a matter of pushing the engineering; it's a matter of getting the engineer, the production engineer, to taking into reality, to get him to fall in love with it. He wants to do that. I don't think I ever had a fight with the engineers, I have been working together with them where it had been a matter of inspiring the engineers, and understand the problems of cost, understand the production technique, yes you have to as a designer, understand the weighing technique, the casting technique, the bending technique, all these possibilities because if you cannot do that they no longer talk to you.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It's called ''The Expert States'', and one of them is the marketing director of I think it is IBM or one of the big computer manufacturers, and he said in 1977 he said, "It is an obscure thought that people ever would have a computer in their private homes." </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Well also there are genuine technical limits to how flat something can be or how light something can be? At any particular stage if in the 1920s a designer said I want a radio to be pocket sized? I mean there are limits to how flat it can be?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This kind of thing you could see all the time, and certainly like the calculator, electrical, calculator. They will only be for the universities, this kind of stuff. Fill a whole room. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Well I don't think there are limits to the imagination. What we have done and what Timothy and I have done together [unintelligible passage]. But you will have a thing like that and there will be no mechanism in it, but not all of these stupid things, but it will be a small [unintelligible passage] or whatever it is in there. Well if that is the case, what should it look like then? Let's see that<br>
+
=== Design concepts and materials  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>We have done it recently with Gaggenau Hausgeräte the German manufacturer of kitchen appliances. And, we've done it with Bang &amp; Olufsen together with Gibbs Bang[?] in the beginning of the '80s. We literally filled up this room with cardboard studies, concept models, and you can see some of them are coming into production now. You know, we made a whole kind of black box system and [unintelligible passage] remote controls, and you name it.<br>  
+
<p>A final question about this Beoogram 4000. Another thing that is very often special about Bang &amp; Olufsen products are the surfaces.Is that also part of your design concept? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>[End of tape 1, side a ] </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br> So what you are saying is that the designer shouldn't be constrained by the present technology.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So when you proposed this you have said exactly you want wood here, you want this kind of aluminum? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, not at the beginning. Timothy has a very interesting book: <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I will tell you the truth. The truth is that we bought cardboard with aluminum on it, and that was what I did then, took a steel sponge and very carefully made this pattern on this cardboard, and then I made the models out of this cardboard and that's why this is always striped, so it looks it looks like aluminum. It looks like it is a little hand feeling it right, and that is why it looks like that. It is as simple as that. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>It's called The Expert States, and one of them is the marketing director of I think it is IBM or one of the big computer manufacturers, and he said in 1977 he said, "It is an obscure thought that people ever would have a computer in their private homes." <br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So the texture of the surfaces is also something you've given thought to? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>This kind of thing you could see all the time, and certainly like the calculator, electrical, calculator. They will only be for the universities, this kind of stuff. Fill a whole room.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, because I did this carefully, and there was a certain technique of doing this with the steel sponge. And then they see that, and that's the trick again. If they like it, "Jesus, that looks nice." It is not a question should we do it, no. The question is how do we do it. And what problems do we have here? Plenty of problems, but how do we do it. I did a demo loudspeaker, I think it is in here maybe. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>A final question about this Beoogram 4000. Another thing that is very often special about Bang &amp; Olufsen products are the surfaces.Is that also part of your design concept?
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. That is a funny little story it is extruded aluminum, it is here, this family here, and it is the only product that Bang &amp; Olufsen had in their program ever since they started which has been manufactured for more than 25 years unchanged. It is identical. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
[End of tape 1, side a ]
+
<p>This is the Beovox CX50 and CX100. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. And that is the same thing again. It is this technique, and then cutting it out and piecing the model. And then they see this product and say, "Gee, that looks nice. How do we do that?" Then the trick is to work it over again and again and again, in such a way that you are yourself in love with it. Because the chances when you take it and put it on the table in front of somebody else and they see it, if you work so long time that you fall in love with it, they will also fall in love with it. And if you want to explain an idea you keep working. We have some patterns and completely new ideas, and you put this wonderful idea in front of somebody and they say, "Now what's the idea in that? But if you come and put it on the table they say, "Jesus that is a wonderful idea. How do we do that?" Then half the battle has been done. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So when you proposed this you have said exactly you want wood here, you want this kind of aluminum?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, your idea of immediate communication from the form of the ideology. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>I will tell you the truth. The truth is that we bought cardboard with aluminum on it, and that was what I did then, took a steel sponge and very carefully made this pattern on this cardboard, and then I made the models out of this cardboard and that's why this is always striped, so it looks it looks like aluminum. It looks like it is a little hand feeling it right, and that is why it looks like that. It is as simple as that.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And the form and the sense of such a thing and all this, this is also a design for the design board. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So the texture of the surfaces is also something you've given thought to?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I am still probably seeing things more from the engineers' side. [[Oral-History:Knud Holst|Knute Holst]] told me yesterday how difficult it was to get these polished aluminum surfaces. They had to work with different suppliers and it was very difficult. Now, one could imagine where it would be so expensive to get the type of surface, you know, with the weight requirements and so on, that you have conceived that the product will be too expensive to sell. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, because I did this carefully, and there was a certain technique of doing this with the steel sponge. And then they see that, and that's the trick again. If they like it, "Jesus, that looks nice." It is not a question should we do it, no. The question is how do we do it. And what problems do we have here? Plenty of problems, but how do we do it. I did a demo loudspeaker, I think it is in here maybe.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p><flashmp3>308 - jensen - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Yes. That is a funny little story it is extruded aluminum, it is here, this family here, and it is the only product that Bang &amp; Olufsen had in their program ever since they started which has been manufactured for more than 25 years unchanged. It is identical.<br>  
+
<p>Now listen, if we have made a compromise of giving up, Bang &amp; Olufsen wouldn't exist. It is as simple as that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>This is the Beovox CX50 and CX100.<br>  
+
<p>And I mean you take a piece like that over there, when that was introduced to the market it was like four thousand US dollars. You could buy one which would do exactly the same for you with the same kind of performance and the same kind of warranty and everything for five hundred dollars. It is another world. But I think it is fair to say that basically there is no industrial products which are 100 percent. They are of course all compromises, of course they are, because you need the price problem always and you need engineering, and the timing and that has to be ready for the fair, and we can't make these kind of coatings, get something else, and all this. But I think what Jacob was saying is you have to fight and believe a lot for what you believe in, otherwise the compromise is going to be too big. I think that product over there is maybe 95% of what we wanted. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. And that is the same thing again. It is this technique, and then cutting it out and piecing the model. And then they see this product and say, "Gee, that looks nice. How do we do that?" Then the trick is to work it over again and again and again, in such a way that you are yourself in love with it. Because the chances when you take it and put it on the table in front of somebody else and they see it, if you work so long time that you fall in love with it, they will also fall in love with it. And if you want to explain an idea you keep working. We have some patterns and completely new ideas, and you put this wonderful idea in front of somebody and they say, "Now what's the idea in that? But if you come and put it on the table they say, "Jesus that is a wonderful idea. How do we do that?" Then half the battle has been done.<br>  
+
<p>We had this wonderful idea, we had this one, you can even see it on the graphics, was when you came with your tape and narrowed down to the opening it saw your hand and opened automatically, and you put it in and took your hand away and it closed again. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, your idea of immediate communication from the form of the ideology.<br>  
+
<p>But that was too difficult. We couldn't handle that in those days with the sensors. But now they are using it for the 25 [unintelligible passage] you see there. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>And the form and the sense of such a thing and all this, this is also a design for the design board.<br>  
+
<p>I would pick up the same idea again because that is so obvious. You can see on the graphics over there, the graphic is still there from this operation. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I am still probably seeing things more from the engineers side. Knute Holst told me yesterday how difficult it was to get these polished aluminum surfaces. They had to work with different suppliers and it was very difficult. Now, one could imagine where it would be so expensive to get the type of surface, you know, with the weight requirements and so on, that you have conceived that the product will be too expensive to sell.<br>  
+
<p>Okay. So that is an example of at that moment it wasn't feasible, but some years later it was produced. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Now listen, if we have made a compromise of giving up, Bang &amp; Olufsen wouldn't exist. It is as simple as that.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, it was too difficult at that time. Too many complications. We tried to make a photo cell sitting looking at the thing. There was all kinds of problems. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>And I mean you take a piece like that over there, when that was introduced to the market it was like four thousand US dollars. You could buy one which would do exactly the same for you with the same kind of performance and the same kind of warranty and everything for five hundred dollars. It is another world. But I think it is fair to say that basically there is no industrial products which are 100 percent. They are of course all compromises, of course they are, because you need the price problem always and you need engineering, and the timing and that has to be ready for the fair, and we can't make these kind of coatings, get something else, and all this. But I think what Jacob was saying is you have to fight and believe a lot for what you believe in, otherwise the compromise is going to be too big. I think that product over there is maybe 95% of what we wanted.<br>  
+
<p>So that was a case of where the engineers said this is just going to take too long to develop. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>We had this wonderful idea, we had this one, you can even see it on the graphics, was when you came with your tape and narrowed down to the opening it saw your hand and opened automatically, and you put it in and took your hand away and it closed again.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, I think everybody realized that this is too high a price to pay. And I mean I remember that the height here from there to there is 65 millimeters. It was in those days that we wanted it to be lower from the deck, from the CD deck that they have got in Japan or wherever it came from, and we said we want it flatter than that. And they said if you want a flatter one you have to buy 200,000 pieces a year or something like that. That's a compromise, of course. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>But that was too difficult. We couldn't handle that in those days with the sensors. But now they are using it for the 25 [unintelligible passage] you see there.<br>  
+
<p>But also I wanted to be clear on they don't make changes in your design without your approval. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>I would pick up the same idea again because that is so obvious. You can see on the graphics over there, the graphic is still there from this operation.<br>  
+
<p>We keep it right all the way to production, and have to. I mean if you take a thing like this, the designer influence on this is everything. I mean look at it. It could work a hundred different ways and if it cost a fourth of what it cost, but you were able to sell this for this price. Why? Because it looks like that. It is not the performance of the damned product; it is the story of product tale. It is the design language, the communication. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Bang &amp; Olufsen exports, Bang &amp; Olufsen design identity  ===
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Okay. So that is an example of at that moment it wasn't feasible, but some years later it was produced.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Now, you began working with Bang &amp; Olufsen you said in '64, which is about the time that they started doing a large amount, I have some figures here, a large amount of export business. In the early years they were producing mainly for Denmark and to a lesser for other Scandinavian countries, and then in the '60s the export market started to become very big for Bang &amp; Olufsen, and then recently it is three quarters of the world. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, it was too difficult at that time. Too many complications. We tried to make a photo cell sitting looking at the thing. There was all kinds of problems.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Very big except for Germany. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So that was a case of where the engineers said this is just going to take too long to develop.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, it was 76 percent of their sales in 1990 was for the export market. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, I think everybody realized that this is too high a price to pay. And I mean I remember that the height here from there to there is 65 millimeters. It was in those days that we wanted it to be lower from the deck, from the CD deck that they have got in Japan or wherever it came from, and we said we want it flatter than that. And they said if you want a flatter one you have to buy 200,000 pieces a year or something like that. That's a compromise, of course.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Holland, England, Sweden. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>But also I wanted to be clear on they don't make changes in your design without your approval.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Whereas in 1960 only 4.5 percent was. And also we have in this period, late '60s, '70s, 80s, the company more and more focusing on what is called the niche market. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>We keep it right all the way to production, and have to. I mean if you take a thing like this, the designer influence on this is everything. I mean look at it. It could work a hundred different ways and if it cost a fourth of what it cost, but you were able to sell this for this price. Why? Because it looks like that. It is not the performance of the damned product; it is the story of product tale. It is the design language, the communication. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Absolutely. But there was no other way to survive. They tried to compete with the Japanese on the Japanese rate but couldn't. I remember especially one situation where they asked me could you please make a Japanese stack. Make a Bang &amp; Olufsen of Japanese stacks. So, at first I made Bang &amp; Olufsen Japanese, tried out the look of a Japanese product. Yes, it looked like a Japanese product. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Now, you began working with Bang &amp; Olufsen you said in '64, which is about the time that they started doing a large amount, I have some figures here, a large amount of export business., In the early years they were producing mainly for Denmark and to a lesser for other Scandinavian countries, and then in the '60s the export market started to become very big for Bang &amp; Olufsen, and then recently it is three quarters of the world.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This is the Beosystem 6500? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Very big except for Germany.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. But it looked like a Japanese product, you couldn't see it was a Bang &amp; Olufsen. And we had this big meeting, everybody was sitting around and I tried to present this, and I had it on the floor, and I had planned this of course before, and I said to them, "This is definite." I was screaming and yelling and I jumped up in the air with both of my feet on this, and it exploded like you take a paper bag. I said, "This is finished, gentlemen. It is true!" And then I went home and then we made this stack, and the world said when they came "this is the best of two worlds." </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, it was 76 percent of their sales in 1990 was for the export market.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That is what the Japanese hi-fi magazine said, they said "the best of two worlds." </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Holland, England, Sweden.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Because it is a stack, but it is a Bang &amp; Olufsen stack. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Whereas in 1960 only 4.5 percent was. And also we have in this period, late '60s, '70s, 80s, the company more and more focusing on what is called the niche market.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And I think one of the very strong components in the world, this has been done for Bang &amp; Olufsen is the whole remote control. But it is like just beautiful art, it is black box system which has the software in there, but the whole operation panel is out where you want it. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Absolutely. But there was no other way to survive. They tried to compete with the Japanese on the Japanese rate but couldn't. I remember especially one situation where they asked me could you please make a Japanese stack. Make a Bang &amp; Olufsen of Japanese stacks. So, at first I made Bang &amp; Olufsen Japanese, tried out the look of a Japanese product. Yes, it looked like a Japanese product.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>This is the Beosystem 6500?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And now we are talking Bang &amp; Olufsen because that is a great part of our work that we have done and many, many other things. But we have used the same technique, working technique at other companies. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. But it looked like a Japanese product, you couldn't see it was a Bang &amp; Olufsen. And we had this big meeting, everybody was sitting around and I tried to present this, and I had it on the floor, and I had planned this of course before, and I said to them, "This is definite." I was screaming and yelling and I jumped up in the air with both of my feet on this, and it exploded like you take a paper bag. I said, "This is finished, gentlemen. It is true!" And then I went home and then we [inaudible] and made this stack, and the world said when they came "this is the best of two worlds."<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. But you mentioned the Bang &amp; Olufsen identity. Are you very consciously designing in a certain style when you worked for them? </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>That is what the Japanese hi-fi magazine said, they said "the best of two worlds." <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. I took my knowledge from [[General Electric (GE)|General Electric]] with me. And here comes another company they are saying more or less the same thing as Bang &amp; Olufsen, "What shall we do? What will the future be?" </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Because it is a stack, but it is a Bang &amp; Olufsen stack. <br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Right, but that is what I am asking for, to say twenty years after you have sort of established this look, are you very consciously maintaining that look for the Bang &amp; Olufsen products? </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>And I think one of the very strong components in the world, this has been done for Bang &amp; Olufsen is the whole remote control. But it is like just beautiful art, it is black box system which has the software in there, but the whole operation panel is out where you want it.<br>
+
=== Jacob Jensen and Bang &amp; Olufsen design identities; telephone design  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I see.<br>  
+
<p>Well, we stopped working for them in '91. So I think that you can say that Jacob Jensen is Bang &amp; Olufsen and Bang &amp; Olufsen is Jacob Jensen, because as an external consultancy he developed the identity, but he wasn't with them; he was on his own. So that is our style, it is the style of this house, this is the way we like to do things, this is the way we are good at doing things. And it is also their style. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>And now we are talking Bang &amp; Olufsen because that is a great part of our work that we have done and many, many other things. But we have used the same technique, working technique at other companies.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. So, it is not as if you have imagined a certain identity for them and you are doing that for them and for some other manufacturer you would have to create some other identity. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes. But you mentioned the Bang &amp; Olufsen identity. Are you very consciously designing in a certain style when you worked for them?<br>  
+
<p>Of course, but it depends on the circumstances, and the feel. So it depends a lot on does the company of the client have an identity that they want to maintain or do they want to build up a new identity. Most of the clients who calls us up call us up because of the work we have done of the style of this house. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No. I took my knowledge from General Electric with me. And here comes another company they are saying more or less the same thing as Bang &amp; Olufsen, "What shall we do? What will the future be?" <br>  
+
<p>See this telephone here. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Right, but that is what I am asking for, to say twenty years after you have sort of established this look, are you very consciously maintaining that look for the Bang &amp; Olufsen products?<br>  
+
<p>Maybe we can talk about that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Well, we stopped working for them in '91. So I think that you can say that Jacob Jensen is Bang &amp; Olufsen and Bang &amp; Olufsen is Jacob Jensen, because as an external consultancy he developed the identity, but he wasn't with them; he was on his own. So that is our style, it is the style of this house, this is the way we like to do things, this is the way we are good at doing things. And it is also their style.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. This telephone is done. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes. So, it is not as if you have imagined a certain identity for them and you are doing that for them and for some other manufacturer you would have to create some other identity.<br>  
+
<p>Well it came on the market in '77. It was called E76 because it was electronic and it was meant to come on the market in '76, but as all other development projects it was one year later. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Of course, but it depends on the circumstances, and the feel. So it depends a lot on does the company of the client have an identity that they want to maintain or do they want to build up a new identity. Most of the clients who calls us up call us up because of the work we have done of the style of this house.<br>  
+
<p>But at that time nothing looked like this, absolutely nothing. The question is do you see here the Bang &amp; Olufsen identity? No. It doesn't look like it. It looks likes a Jacob Jensen. This is a trick. When I came to this solution and I presented that after, you can see this is a working process you see here, what we have shown some of all the developments for this thing. This was the result, and this had never been done before. This is the way that old people can have the hand here and you can do this and you can easily get your hand in here and you can easily take your hand so that you don't do all these kind of funny things. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>See this telephone here.<br>  
+
<p>Have you done telephones for Bang &amp; Olufsen? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Maybe we can talk about that.<br>  
+
<p>No. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. This telephone is done. <br>  
+
<p>Well, we have done telephones for Bang &amp; Olufsen which have not come into production. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Well it came on the market in '77. It was called E76 because it was electronic and it was meant to come on the market in '76, but as all other development projects it was one year later.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>But at that time nothing looked like this, absolutely nothing. The question is do you see here the Bang &amp; Olufsen identity? No. It doesn't look like it. It looks likes a Jacob Jensen. This is a trick. When I came to this solution and I presented that after, you can see this is a working process you see here, what we have shown some of all the developments for this thing. This was the result, and this had never been done before. This is the way that old people can have the hand here and you can do this and you can easily get your hand in here and you can easily take your hand so that you don't do all these kind of funny things.<br>  
+
<p>Studies. I mean has put in millions, hundred of studies of all kinds of products. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Have you done telephones for Bang &amp; Olufsen?<br>  
+
<p>But this is done in '74, '75. It is developed and the design developed. They are still producing it today. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No.<br>  
+
<p>It has been in production for twenty years. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Well, we have done telephones for Bang &amp; Olufsen which have not come into production.<br>  
+
<p>I mean in this telephone market, this is still the telephone market where the Japanese come for three markets per year. They didn't have a thing like this where they can produce those for twenty years. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, that is remarkable. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Studies. I mean has put in millions, hundred of studies of all kinds of products.<br>  
+
<p>But the thing is about many of the products we have done have been on the market for twenty years, too. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>But this is done in '74, '75. It is developed and the design developed. They are still producing it today.<br>  
+
<p>Twenty five years. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Product proposals  ===
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>It has been in production for twenty years.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Beosystem 4500. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>I mean in this telephone market, this is still the telephone market where the Japanese come for three markets per year. They didn't have a thing like this where they can produce those for twenty years.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well hang on, because when it came out it was called Beomaster 1900, that is the flat one standing out there, but that basic design and that basic product has been face-lifted a lot of times. The one who did Michael Jackson couldn't have done it better. It has been face-lifted probably ten times, but it is still the same product. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, that is remarkable.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Many of the tubes are the same. Things like that. But I mean this is I think what people are telling us, Tim and me, that our products have a tendency to be on the market for a long time, like this Honeywell. That little round thing for over twenty years the same thing. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>But the thing is about many of the products we have done have been on the market for twenty years, too.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You mentioned that there were a lot of telephone studies for Bang &amp; Olufsen, a lot of other studies, products you proposed that were not produced. So there is a high ratio of proposals that never went into production to the ones that did? </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Twenty five years.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Beosystem 4500.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I think that goes with all clients that we work with, and that is the whole trick. They say "Okay we want to do something new." You try to cover or to spread out that world and say, "Well here are the seven options, or the five options or the ten or the fifteen options that we see. You could do this, this will have probably these kind of consequences." And then they say, "We believe in this, but let's take some other ideas from proposal number four and let's take the shape from number seven and let's combine it." </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>Well hang on, because when it came out it was called Beomaster 1900, that is the flat one standing out there, but that basic design and that basic product has been face-lifted a lot of times. The one who did Michael Jackson couldn't have done it better. It has been face-lifted probably ten times, but it is still the same product.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, but just as there are some back and forth with the production engineers, development production engineers, there must also be some back and forth I imagine with sales people. Are sometimes when you think "this is really a good product" and they said no it wasn't? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Many of the tubes are the same. Things like that. But I mean this is I think what people are telling us, Tim and me, that our products have a tendency to be on the market for a long time, like this Honeywell. That little round thing for over twenty years the same thing.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, I don't think so. Well, but I think I'm looking at the different people's point of view here, because I believe that the developing of Bang &amp; Olufsen's products and why we never had to fight for the way anything was is that we were growing together. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>You mentioned that there were a lot of telephone studies for Bang &amp; Olufsen, a lot of other studies, products you proposed that were not produced. So there is a high ratio of proposals that never went into production to the ones that did?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So you had enough of a feel for the market that Bang &amp; Olufsen had that you wouldn't make proposals that are not going to fit with their company. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, because the way I see it is that group, and maybe me because I was the guy who was coming with the ideas, they never came with anything and said, "Why don't we do this?" </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>I think that goes with all clients that we work with, and that is the whole trick. They say "Okay we want to do something new." You try to cover or to spread out that world and say, "Well here are the seven options, or the five options or the ten or the fifteen options that we see. You could do this, this will have probably these kind of consequences." And then they say, "We believe in this, but let's take some other ideas from proposal number four and let's take the shape from number seven and let's combine it."<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I mean they brought in new technology and new components, but I think what you are talking about is design and conceptual things where they say, "Well, here is this flat speaker from Japan," or "Here is this CD movement from Philips." </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, but just as there are some back and forth with the production engineers, development production engineers, there must also be some back and forth I imagine with sales people. Are sometimes when you think "this is really a good product" and they said no it wasn't?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It is kind of a thing, but I mean Bang &amp; Olufsen always was late in developing because Philips had to do it first. After they had come to sell it and found out that some Japanese and then [unintelligible passage] CD now, this is interesting, so it is kind of this way. But of course the adjustment of should we go into CDs, should we go into the compact cassette, this has gone on for a long time. I think we were some of the latest people to take the concept of the cassette tape. But this has gone. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, I don't think so. Well, but I think I'm looking at the different people's point of view here, because I believe that the developing of Bang &amp; Olufsen's products and why we never had to fight for the way anything was is that we were growing together. <br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Tape cassette, cassette tape for recorders. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So you had enough of a feel for the market that Bang &amp; Olufsen had that you wouldn't make proposals that are not going to fit with their company.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. I think so. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No, because the way I see it is that group, and maybe me because I was the guy who was coming with the ideas, they never came with anything and said, "Why don't we do this?"<br>
+
=== Beolit 600 transistor radio  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>I mean they brought in new technology and new components, but I think what you are talking about is design and conceptual things where they say, "Well, here is this flat speaker from Japan," or "Here is this CD movement from Philips."<br>  
+
<p>Well I can see that in those areas. Now I wanted to also ask you about this transistor radio, the Beolit 600. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>It is kind of a thing, but I mean Bang &amp; Olufsen always was late in developing because Philips had to do it first. After they had come to sell it and found out that some Japanese and then [unintelligible passage] CD now, this is interesting, so it is kind of this way. But of course the adjustment of should we go into CDs, should we go into the compact cassette, this has gone on for a long time. I think we were some of the latest people to take the concept of the cassette tape. But this has gone.<br>  
+
<p>That is exactly the same thing. This is done together with my friend Kokesoid, 100 percent. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Tape cassette, cassette tape for recorders.<br>  
+
<p>Is that right? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. I think so.<br>  
+
<p>All the detailing, all of this was his idea actually, but the small balls running down the magnet underneath. Every damn detail here is done by him, I have done the design ideas, but the construction of it is done by him. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Well I can see that in those areas. Now I wanted to also ask you about this transistor radio, the Beolit 600.<br>  
+
<p>I see. He is also external to the company, to Bang &amp; Olufsen? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>That is exactly the same thing. This is done together with my friend Kokesoid [spelling?], 100 percent.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, he is only attached to me. I pay him. But, we do that with many people. All the way into production we are finding the people. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Beomic 2000 microphone  ===
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Is that right?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This microphone, this is the Beomic 2000. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>All the detailing, all of this was his idea actually, but the small balls running down the magnet underneath. Every damn detail here is done by him, I have done the design ideas, but the construction of it is done by him.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. This is a very difficult job for me to make this microphone. It was a pipe, a tube and a little filter, that's all. And how in the heck can you put an idea into that? </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I see. He is also external to the company, to Bang &amp; Olufsen?<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>How can you add value? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, he is only attached to me. I pay him. But, we do that with many people. All the way into production we are finding the people. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>How could you add so much value to it, I want this instead of that. So what I did was, the legs here can be folded up and turn the top so you have another microphone and you go [pop sound with mouth] and it can stand. Yeah, now it is a microphone. It is not a microphone, now it is a tool for something else. But the attention it gets as it goes. Now we see that's an idea </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>This microphone, this is the Beomic 2000.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes. This is a very difficult job for me to make this microphone. It was a pipe, a tube and a little filter, that's all. And how in the heck can you put an idea into that?<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And this is again we thought we should make a microphone ó we shouldn't. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>How can you add value?<br>
+
=== BeoVox 2500 cube speaker  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>How could you add so much value to it, I want this instead of that. So what I did was, the legs here can be folded up and turn the top so you have another microphone and you go [pop sound with mouth] and it can stand. Yeah, now it is a microphone. It is not a microphone, now it is a tool for something else. But the attention it gets as it goes. Now we see that's an idea<br>  
+
<p>Yes, that is a good example of bringing a new idea to it. I like this speaker very much, I wanted to ask you about the BeoVox 2500, the cube speaker. How did that come about? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>The idea was at that time to make high tuners bigger, that go around in the whole room, so therefore we made this cube with six speakers in that could hang or it could stand on the table. There was a lot of problems with it, but again when people saw it they say [unintelligible passage]. It is actually a piece of wood; it is not plastic. It is a piece of wood where somebody has drilled some holes into it and then made a nice surface on it. It is a very nice looking speaker, and it a 100 percent functional. That speaker set in the store, it functions very well, and it doesn’t make too much noise to look at. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>And this is again we thought we should make a microphone ó we shouldn't.<br>  
+
<p>Was it your idea to make it cube shaped? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, that is a good example of bringing a new idea to it. I like very much this speaker, I wanted to ask you about the BeoVox 2500, the cube speaker. How did that come about?<br>  
+
<p>Yes, because it was always our idea. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>The idea was at that time to make high tuners bigger, that go around in the whole room, so therefore we made this cube with six speakers in that could hang or it could stand on the table. There was a lot of problems with it, but again when people saw it they say [unintelligible passage]. It is actually a piece of wood; it is not plastic. It is a piece of wood where somebody has drilled some holes into it and then made a nice surface on it. It is a very nice looking speaker, and it a 100 percent functional. That speaker set in the store, it functions very well, and it doesn’t make too much noise to look at.<br>  
+
<p>Yes and to turn it at that angle. And I think that is just a very pleasing design. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Was it your idea to make it cube shaped?<br>  
+
<p>Yes it is; it is believable. It is very believable. The designers don't change the products that show too well. It is probably too expensive or too strange, but personally I think it is very nice speaker as that. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Madison step and tool box  ===
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, because it was always our idea.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And I think to get back to some of the things that we said earlier is that I think one of the forces of this house here is that when we start working with a project we try to dive deeply into it and understand what is the actual problem here. Is it a performance problem? Is it a psychological problem? Is it identity, is it whatever? And over here, here is four kilos of plastic with ideas in it, right, because who the hell wants to buy four kilos of plastic? Nobody, right? But if you put some ideas into it. This is a stack and tool box, that is what it is called. It has a handle it has dividers in here where they put the stuff, you can put your hacksaw in through this slot coming out here so it can hang here. We [unintelligible] same tools, so you save some tools, it is the same hammer and the same bit, and we add this stuff in here, and so we have a combination possibility. And I think the most problematic part is this, it takes a great release through these flaps here, and what is it? It is four kilos of plastic that somebody has added ideas to. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes and to turn it at that angle. And I think that is just a very pleasing design.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It's finding ideas. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes it is; it is believable. It is very believable. The designers don't change the products that show too well. It is probably too expensive or too strange, but personally I think it is very nice speaker as that.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Just to get it on the tape, this is the Madison tool box. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>And I think to get back to some of the things that we said earlier is that I think one of the forces of this house here is that when we start working with a project we try to dive deeply into it and understand what is the actual problem here. Is it a performance problem? Is it a psychological problem? Is it identity, is it whatever? And over here, here is four kilos of plastic with ideas in it, right, because who the hell wants to buy four kilos of plastic? Nobody, right? But if you put some ideas into it. This is a stack and tool box, that is what it is called. It has a handle it has dividers in here where they put the stuff, you can put your hacksaw in through this slot coming out here so it can hang here. We [unintelligible] same tools, so you save some tools, it is the same hammer and the same bit, and we add this stuff in here, and so we have a combination possibility. And I think the most problematic part is this, it takes a great release through these flaps here, and what is it? It is four kilos of plastic that somebody has added ideas to. <br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The Madison step and tool box. </p>
  
'''Jensen:''' <br>It's finding ideas.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It only weighs four kilos. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Just to get it on the tape, this is the Madison tool box.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You could fill it up with different things and there you are. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>The Madison step and tool box.<br>
+
=== Alarm clock prototype  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>It only weighs four kilos.<br>  
+
<p>This is a prototype, but the guy, Max Aneda, wanted an alarm clock. I mean just make an alarm clock. But I mean there are hundred and thousands of alarm clocks on this planet, so what we did with this thing we had to give it some idea. This never came into production; this is just a prototype. But now it is on. You know when the little bell, when the red and off and on and all these bloody symbols and you come to all these crazy hotels, you can never work these things out. Now it is off, now it is on. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>You could fill it up with different things and there you are. This is a prototype, but the guy, Max Aneda [spelling?], wanted an alarm clock. I mean just make an alarm clock. But I mean there are hundred and thousands of alarm clocks on this planet, so what we did with this thing we had to give it some idea. This never came into production; this is just a prototype. But now it is on. You know when the little bell, when the red and off and on and all these bloody symbols and you come to all these crazy hotels, you can never work these things out. Now it is off, now it is on. <br>  
+
<p>Yes, there should be immediate communication with this. I know I have taken a lot of your time. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Working relationship with Bang &amp; Olufsen; design credits  ===
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, there should be immediate communication with this. I know I have taken a lot of your time. But what haven't I asked about in your relations with Bang &amp; Olufsen that you might want to comment on? You have had good relations over the thirty years?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>But what haven't I asked about in your relations with Bang &amp; Olufsen that you might want to comment on? You have had good relations over the thirty years? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Oh, we had a wonderful relationship, a beautiful twenty years of hard work but it was very, very good years. When I was fifty I said "Okay, I had been doing this since I was thirteen, working since I was thirteen, now I say that is enough." Then they came and said "Would you like to work for three more years and we will pay you three extra years for salary without working." So I worked for them three more years. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Oh, we had a wonderful relationship, a beautiful twenty years of hard work but it was very, very good years. When I was fifty I said "Okay, I had been doing this since I was thirteen, working since I was thirteen, now I say that is enough." Then they came and said "Would you like to work for three more years and we will pay you three extra years for salary without working." So I worked for them three more years. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>In '93?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In '93? </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>No, in '81 Jacob left with his yacht and then I was running the company for a couple of years. And I left the company and so other people were running it and had Bang &amp; Olufsen as a client. Jacob came home every month or so for every presentation, and then I took over the company in '89.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, in '81 Jacob left with his yacht and then I was running the company for a couple of years. And I left the company and so other people were running it and had Bang &amp; Olufsen as a client. Jacob came home every month or so for every presentation, and then I took over the company in '89. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>I see.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>But the working relationship with Bang &amp; Olufsen was fantastic. There was great understanding from the top people. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>But the working relationship with Bang &amp; Olufsen was fantastic. There was great understanding from the top people. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>In some product lines there is a tradition for naming the designer. Has Bang &amp; Olufsen done that in their marketing?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In some product lines there is a tradition for naming the designer. Has Bang &amp; Olufsen done that in their marketing? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>I think that they have tried to promote themselves and they have not promoted me in all of these years. Of course in exhibitions and designs and various this and that they do. But out in public, no.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I think that they have tried to promote themselves and they have not promoted me in all of these years. Of course in exhibitions and designs and various this and that they do. But out in public, no. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So their boxes never say "Designed by Jacob Jensen."<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So their boxes never say "Designed by Jacob Jensen." </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>No. They only had one designer to run the whole show for fifteen years, that was kind of a secret, little bit of a secret. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. They only had one designer to run the whole show for fifteen years, that was kind of a secret, little bit of a secret. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>The fact that it wasn't their own design you mean?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The fact that it wasn't their own design you mean? </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Well, it was not a design where they had a designer sitting outside, they could control him 100 percent. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well, it was not a design where they had a designer sitting outside, they could control him 100 percent. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>So they didn't want to advertise the fact?<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So they didn't want to advertise the fact? </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>No, of course not. <br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, of course not. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>It was uncomfortable for them that if it had been known that they were depending on one little man that is sitting out here by the fjord, that was the way it was.<br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It was uncomfortable for them that if it had been known that they were depending on one little man that is sitting out here by the fjord, that was the way it was. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>And also I think that goes generally with a lot of companies that when they have built up a good status, a good identity they want to maintain that. They don't want to make a Mercedes designed by Peterson and next year it is designed by Matteson or whoever. <br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And also I think that goes generally with a lot of companies that when they have built up a good status, a good identity they want to maintain that. They don't want to make a Mercedes designed by Peterson and next year it is designed by Matteson or whoever. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Yes, they want a corporate identity and not Jacob Jensen.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, they want a corporate identity and not Jacob Jensen. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Of course, that is natural. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Of course, that is natural. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Well I think you have given me a good picture of your working relations with the company.<br>  
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well I think you have given me a good picture of your working relations with the company. </p>
  
'''Jensen:'''<br>Yes, and I think that is probably what you wanted. <br>  
+
<p>'''Jensen:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, and I think that is probably what you wanted. </p>
  
'''Timothy:'''<br>And we have been around for 38 years, so there is a long story to tell. So if you want more information or whatever I can get something together and I will send it to you, or you send us a fax or give me a ring and I can send you slides and pictures and you name it. We have heaps of materials and scrap books for the last thirty years and stuff like that.<br>  
+
<p>'''Timothy:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And we have been around for 38 years, so there is a long story to tell. So if you want more information or whatever I can get something together and I will send it to you, or you send us a fax or give me a ring and I can send you slides and pictures and you name it. We have heaps of materials and scrap books for the last thirty years and stuff like that. </p>
  
'''Nebeker:'''<br>Well thank you both very much.
+
<p>'''Nebeker:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well thank you both very much. </p>
  
[End of interview]<br><br>  
+
<p>[End of interview] </p>
  
<br>
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Jensen]] [[Category:Corporations|Jensen]] [[Category:Business, management & industry|Jensen]] [[Category:Business|Jensen]] [[Category:Industries|Jensen]] [[Category:Economics|Jensen]] [[Category:Power, energy & industry applications|Jensen]] [[Category:Consumer electronics|Jensen]] [[Category:Communications|Jensen]] [[Category:Telephony|Jensen]] [[Category:Radio communication|Jensen]] [[Category:Communication equipment|Jensen]] [[Category:Culture and society|Jensen]] [[Category:Workplace|Jensen]] [[Category:International affairs & development|Jensen]] [[Category:Trade|Jensen]] [[Category:Leisure|Jensen]] [[Category:Popular culture|Jensen]] [[Category:Audio systems|Jensen]]

Revision as of 13:52, 13 November 2013

Contents

About Jacob Jensen

Jacob Jensen, 1996
Jacob Jensen, 1996

Industrial designer Jacob Jensen was born in Copenhagen in 1926, the son of an upholsterer.  Jensen left school at age thirteen for an upholstery apprenticeship, later returning to the School of Applied Arts in 1948, where he studied with Kaare Klint, Hans Wegner, and Jörn Utzon. From 1952 through 1958, Jensen worked at the Danish industrial design firm Bernadotte and Bjørn, taking leadership of the studio there in 1954. In this interview, Jensen describes these periods of education and early employment, detailing electrical equipment design work he did at Bernadotte and Bjørn, as well as the work he performed in the United States for notable designers and firms including Raymond Loewy and General Electric.

After returning to Copenhagen, Jensen opened his own studio, Jacob Jensen Design, in 1958. Clients' familiarity with Jensen's work for Bernadotte and Bjørn led to the JJD studio's early design projects. Simultaneously, Jensen worked on hi-fi product design and operated the European branch for Latham, Tyler & Jensen, a design firm with which he had worked in the U.S. In 1964 Jensen continued his work in hi-fi design for Bang & Olufsen, leading to the Beomaster 5000 tuner and amplifier product marketed in 1967. This interview describes Jacob Jensen Design's collaborations with Bang & Olufsen, which extended into the early 1990s.

In this interview, Jacob Jensen and his son Timothy Jacob Jensen consider the roles of design in shaping technological production. Jacob Jensen describes the formation of Jacob Jensen Design, detailing the studio's early work. He also details projects undertaken for Latham, Tyler & Jensen and for Bang & Olufsen. Timothy Jensen began collaborating with his father on Bang & Olufsen projects in 1978, and he contributes to the discussion of design processes and working environments, as the interview considers the reputation and independence Jacob Jensen experienced as an industrial designer. The interview narrates the development of products including the Beocenter 9000 sound system product in the early 1980s and the Beogram 4000 turntable in the early 1970s as examples of Jacob Jensen's design collaborations with Bang & Olufsen. Jacob Jensen assesses his designs' role in establishing Bang & Olufsen's corporate identity, and he describes his participation in production and manufacturing as an external collaborator. Timothy and Jacob Jensen also offer their philosophies of design-driven product engineering.

The oral histories of Jens Bang, Keld Harder, and Jørgen Palshøj also cover the history of Bang & Olufsen.  Further information on Jacob Jensen Design can also be found at Jacob Jensen's website.

About the Interview

JACOB JENSEN: An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 23 July 1996

Interview #308 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical And Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Jacob Jensen, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEW: JACOB JENSEN with TIMOTHY JENSEN

INTERVIEWER: FREDERIK NEBEKER

PLACE: JUTLAND, DENMARK

DATE: JULY 23, 1996

Education

Nebeker:

I am talking with Jacob Jensen at his home in northern Jutland. This is Frederik Nebeker. Jacob Jensen's son Timothy Jacob Jensen is also here. Could we start with a very quick review of your career up to the time you began working with Bang & Olufsen. Where were you born?

Jensen:

I am born in 1926 in Copenhagen. I left school when I was thirteen because it didn't fit into the picture. So I started as an apprentice in furniture, and from when I was very young I was always playing with the drawings and models. I did a little more than most boys did. So when I was finished my student time as an apprentice in furniture I went into my father's welding shop. In that little shop I didn't have very much to do, so I began to design and make furniture as models and then we put them out in the window to see if anybody would salute, right? And we sold some of this furniture. And one day a guy came by his name was Koughn and he was an architect. He said, "Who has designed this furniture?" And my father said, "My son. He is playing around with this kind of nonsense." Then Mr. Koughn said this guy has potential because this is very unusual furniture, it is very interesting furniture. So after that, I went into the furniture.

I then went back to school. I met some of the best people actually in this world in this area. The best one was maybe called Professor Kaare Klint. He is a classical designer of furniture and of course Hans Wegner. Jörn Utzon was the guy that made the Sydney Opera and many, many other things. At that time they were young, poor people that had jobs teaching these young kids. I was about twenty.

Bernadotte and Bjørn

Jensen:

I was there for about three and a half years, and then I went across the street to Bernadotte and Bjørn. This is the first design company in Denmark. I said to them, "Gentlemen, I have to work here because I have to train and assist designer Jörn Utzen." They said "no way." So I went down in price, 6 krone per hour, 5 krone per hour, 4 krone per hour, 3 krone per hour, and then the [unintelligible passage]. The starting price was 2.25 krone per hour. One guy said to me "I don't care, I mean for this kind of money you can empty the paper basket and clean the floors." So I started there. I won a couple of competitions in furniture.

Nebeker:

That was is in '51?

Jensen:

Yes. And after a short period of time I came up to 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 krone in salary.

Nebeker:

So you very quickly became a designer.

Jensen:

Yes, they realized that maybe I had something to produce. Mr. Bernadotte said that I had this intuition and understanding for forms and feelings and could present to the customer new ideas and new style ideas. This is the style my son Timothy and I still work towards. First of all, we developed strategies, and then after understanding all the troubles we'd go into the design and to the connection with the [unintelligible passage].

But to continue my story about my meeting with Bang & Olufsen. I worked with Sigvard Bernadotte for seven years. After those seven years were up I had made a lot of products, many of them classical products.

Nebeker:

This is all furniture?

Jensen:

No, there was no furniture; it wasn't [unintelligible passage] to design.

Nebeker:

What sort of products?

Jensen:

Electrical equipment. There was no furniture; cooking stuff, porcelain, and everything.

Nebeker:

What electrical equipment did you design?

Jensen:

We made some x-ray machines, electrical typewriters, radios, telephones and an intercom system.

Nebeker:

Duplication machines?

Jensen:

Different kinds of duplication machines.

Nebeker:

Were these for Danish manufacturers?

Jensen:

Danish, Swedish, German manufacturers, mainly Danish-Swedish. Mr. Bernadotte is the Queen's brother.

Timothy:

The Queen mother's brother, Bernadotte.

Jensen:

I mean I didn't know that when I came, but I learned that after a while. I was there about three or four months before I realized who he was. He was very surprised I didn't know that. But he was a beautiful person, and I was kind of a raw person that came from the bottom of the society, and he was absolutely at the top of society. Because he was made in the top of society he had this tolerance, he never said to me, "You shouldn't do that?" or "Why don't you behave differently?"

Timothy:

I think this is taking a little nice story is that when Jacob and Sigvard Bernadotte they went to the Fieatiside, a hotel in Hamburg, and they were driving in this big Bentley of course and he has this big ox leather suitcase. He looks at Jacob and Jacob just has a toothbrush with some silver paper around it, and gives it to the guy and he says [unintelligible passage].

Jensen:

Even then, when I got to my room and I was sitting on the couch and said, "Jacob, this time you really have done it, you really overstepped the lines there." But then I came down to the bar before we had the dinner. So I came down to the bar ready to go, and all he said was, "Hello Jacob. What are you drinking tonight? I hope your room is good." That is style.

Nebeker:

It sounds like it was a fortunate position you had there to have a range of different products to design.

Jensen:

Oh, I think we made several hundred different products. All kinds of things. So it was a fantastic training. I only had a little training with Jörn Utzon in industrial design. I think that he started a class with 12 people and after a year there were only two people left, me and him. The other ones they went over to the furniture side. So I got the special training from him, and then I went into this at [unintelligible passage] and got to meet Mr. Bernadotte, and he took me under his arm you could say and I became the leader of the office within a few years, and we traveled.

Nebeker:

So you were on your own already.

Jensen:

Completely. I never saw Mr. Bernadotte [unintelligible] but maybe one time. He had good taste and he had good intuition for the products. After I had been there for seven years I wanted see the world. At that time the only place in the world for industrial design was the United States.

Design work in the U.S.; Raymond Loewy, General Electric

Jensen:

I got a stack of introductions from Bernadotte to all the best keys to all the best doors in the United States. I was very lucky again. I went to Walter Dorwin Teague and Raymond Loewy and you name it, they had [unintelligible passage], and every time. I had my portfolio with me, and they said, "It's wonderful, why don't you sit down and here's a pencil, go right ahead." I stopped in New York and worked for Raymond Loewy, and after that I worked in a plastics factory in Newcastle; I don't remember the name of it. And then I came to Chicago.

Nebeker:

You were actually hired at those places?

Jensen:

Yes.

Nebeker:

For how long?

Jensen:

Oh, for the first place I think about half a year. Some of the products they made [unintelligible passage] they produced it for twenty years.

Nebeker:

What product was that?

Jensen:

It is the Honeywell Tamistock line. Then some whisky bottles at another time. But that was my record. After that I went to Chicago and met at that time the top people in Chicago, Latham, Tyler, and [George] Jensen of Latham, Tyler & Jensen. You are probably quite familiar with the name, Latham Tyler. They have a very good design office in Chicago. I came in with my little map and showed them my little, my photos, and they looked at it and said, "Can you sail?" I said, "Yes, I can sail." I had just been [unintelligible passage] here in Denmark so I was a very good sailor, so we went sailing.

Timothy:

Just to complete the story, you finished the qualification for the Olympic games.

Jensen:

Yes. So, I went sailing and we had a very good friendly relationship. And I did a lot of different things. I did a lot of things for General Electric and for different people.

Nebeker:

Do you remember exactly what you did for General Electric?

Jensen:

This was a television, radio, this kind of equipment, gramophone just whatever.

Nebeker:

So a number of things.

Jensen:

Yes. They even produced them I think. But then I worked there, and then I went to the west coast, just north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and worked there for a while. Then I went back to Denmark.

Nebeker:

Your intention all along was just to get some experience in the United States?

Jensen:

Yes, just to see something else, try to see something else, work with something else. In Santa Barbara they had a very interesting technique. They got an idea, it could be an egg beater, you name it, and then we developed it completely, designed it, developed it mechanically, collectively, and then we went out to a company and said, "What about this?"

Nebeker:

Do you remember the name of that company?

Jensen:

Yes, that was Lathen, Tyler & Jensen at Shushay, and the guy's name was MacFarland. They had a beautiful old church, a wooden church there that was a beautiful place. Then I went back to Denmark, and I promised Bernadotte I would work with him for one year after I came back, so I did that.

Jacob Jensen Design

Jensen:

And then I started my own little business in Copenhagen, after [unintelligible passage] somewhere in the middle of Copenhagen, and ten minutes after I had opened the first of January the telephone was ringing at ten minutes past nine and that was the first client, because it was a company I had been working for here Peanates , All Class Peanates. I had been working for them when I was working for Bernadotte. And they were used to me and they did-- I mean we only worked together when Bernadotte and [unintelligible passage], so when I left there they didn't want to start all over again, so they just called me and said would you like to continue, and I said of course, and that one client was the GN Danavox.

Nebeker:

Hearing aids was the first product you designed on your own there?

Jensen:

Yes, everything behind the hearing process.

Nebeker:

So that was the very beginning of the transistorized hearing aid, so that must have been one of the very first of those designs.

Jensen:

Yes. The first one we did we had some bakelite. it was a [unintelligible passage] form, a little wooden thing we pressed down in the mold when it was hot, cut it off and fit it all in there, so you have a hearing aid where your ears were sitting like that. But that was a beginning, and we had a wonderful time in this factory and sold them at the time.

Nebeker:

You were actually involved in the production?

Jensen:

No. It became one of the best hearing aids companies twenty years later, and Denmark actually became famous for the hearing aids. Not because of me, but because that these people they saw the possibility of transistorizing both things. And this was the beginning. Then the next client was also somebody I had been working for with Bernadotte and Bjorn, and this was a duplicator dictating machine.

Nebeker:

A tape recorder dictating machine?

Jensen:

There was a record, a magnetic record, and then offsets, a different kind of offset machine. Small duplicators, the whole line. There were many, many products that I did at that time.

Running European branch for Latham, Tyler & Jensen

Jensen:

But then as soon as I started them I had the agreement with Latham Tyler that I would be their associate in Denmark. Then I went to Europe and I worked together with them for 15 to 20 years.

Timothy:

You were in contact with Latham until he died three years ago.

Nebeker:

What does that mean, being their man in Europe?

Jensen:

Being the European branch office. Yes. I think they came this way that they would like me to continue the work on generators and they would like to do it, and then they asked me at one point could you please look into the future and see what does the future hi-fi scene look like.

Nebeker:

This is General Electric?

Jensen:

Yes. And we did that. At that time they had a different office down by Forein Cellen, Bosken Forein, and I did what you see here. So, what I did was after I had been thinking about it, I did this in 1963, an it was taking over to the electrical percentage on that, and all this is just by that time a fantastic strange thing because nothing like that had ever been seen before.

Nebeker:

They are very flat.

Jensen:

Yes, small sliders, you can see them here. And many details, the steel nut with the little hole in, this is all flat and thin. This is in 1963, and General Electric, the start of the leading directorate for their strategy set, the year 2000 maybe.

Nebeker:

Now did you know that this kind of design was actually technically feasible?

Jensen:

No.

Nebeker:

You knew about transistors and you knew that probably you could completely transistorize a phonograph.

Jensen:

Yes, I knew that if they wanted to put the effort into it they could do it. Okay, we will fight about the height, a few millimeter here and this kind of dimensions. By that time [I] had been in the business for ten years. So I knew what was possible and what was not possible. But for them it was not the problem of being able to produce it, that was not the drawback. They just thought it was too bloody wild. This is way off they said. But the end of the story is that later we presented it to General Electric. They said "Gee, this is [unintelligible passage]."

Bang & Olufsen; radio amplifier design

Jensen:

Then after a couple of years I began to work for Bang & Olufsen.

Timothy:

In '64.

Jensen:

What?

Timothy:

In '64.

Jensen:

In '64. That's three years later. So I had all this when I started working for them, and did the same thing again.

Nebeker:

How did the connection come about, your first connection with Bang & Olufsen?

Jensen:

Well I had been working for a radio television factory in Copenhagen that was called Toer, and I made an amplifier for them. It was extruded, it was very advanced at the time.

Nebeker:

This was around 1960?

Jensen:

Yes. And it came on the market and Bang & Olufsen saw that and said, "Oops we had better get hold of this guy because this looks like danger."

Nebeker:

In those days was the designer publicly associated with the product?

Jensen:

Yes

Timothy:

But not in terms of marketing.

Nebeker:

So in '64 you made contact with you.

Jensen:

They came to me and asked me if I would do something for them, and I said we can try, and the first thing I did we have standing out here. I had been working at General Electric and I had this all planned, in my brain I knew all the tactical angles we want to do and all that. So I did this thing for them and presented it to them, and they said, "Okay. Why don't you do that." There was a complete switch coming from them. They had nothing like it.

Nebeker:

What was the product?

Timothy:

It was a tuner and an amplifier.

Nebeker:

Okay. This is the Beomaster 5000. In 1967 it was marketed.

Jensen:

Yes. So I came with this solution and presented it to that guy that was leading the project, his name was Roderik Madsen. Jens Bang was not in the picture at all at that time. And we took it to the factory and [unintelligible passage] looked at it and said, "Gee, but that's something entirely different. We have never done that before." But they agreed, and I think this is probably one of the fantastic things about Bang & Olufsen that they saw a possibility to get away from everybody else. Or, you could say the opposite, you could say there was nobody powerful enough to stop it. I mean this is very often the situation. Here you have strong people, they say this is right thing, let's do it, or there is no strong people, there is nobody that can stop it.

Timothy:

You mean in the organization, in the company.

Jensen:

And then it just kind of happens; nobody can stop it.

Nebeker:

Just because a designer has been asked to propose something, you are saying if there is no strong person within the company it may just fade away?

Jensen:

They will say, "Well I don't know, okay, what?" And then one day it is finished and in production.

Timothy:

I remember when I started working here in '78, Jacob told me about Bang & Olufsen and all the other companies. What you do is you go in there, you take the ball away from them, play it gently so everybody can see you, you know, just, you know, don't shoot it too fast. Just play it nicely in the direction that you believe and they will follow you, kind of thing.

Nebeker:

Let me ask a little bit about this. One thing that strikes me about it is that well, of course it is a very flat design, this kind of tuner is special, the cabinet is somewhat unusual, it is not the usual frame around...

Jensen:

No, there is just the top and the sides is black metal. It is just a piece of wood on the top.

Nebeker:

Now for a long time radios and other products were made on a metal chassis that was then inserted in a cabinet, a wooden cabinet. Is that still the case with this one or is this one...

Jensen:

No, none of the things are actually mounted on the front and pushed into it, and then you have these four bracket screws that looks very mechanical. But a product like that, you know, you can put it in production today. It is not old; it hasn't duplicated...

Nebeker:

In terms of design.

Jensen:

Right.

Nebeker:

I'd like to understand better exactly your input in this product. When you proposed-- so they told you that they are interested in a new radio amplifier.

Jensen:

Yes. And that's all. Then they would like to use, what do you call it, slide potentiometer and they should have four, one right after another. This was actually the length of the deck.

Nebeker:

I see, so they gave you a sort of a dimension because they needed...

Jensen:

No, they gave me this slide potentiometer and said we want them put somewhere.

Nebeker:

I see.

Jensen:

And this is important, and then whatever you do else is up to you, and they had no influence at all about how it was developed and what was going on. And then I came and said, "Well, that's the way I see it." Then they said, "Okay, let's try this."

Nebeker:

So in the beginning, was it basically the general layout that you proposed or did you actually from the beginning design the way the cabinet was built with everything outside?

Jensen:

Yes, with everything outside.

Nebeker:

The transformers I know are quite important.

Jensen:

Yes, the height of the transformer and the air that goes to the transformer, and then what should be on the damned thing. And that's all.

Nebeker:

You got that information from them, you got some basic dimensions?

Jensen:

Yes, the height and full potentiometer.

Timothy:

And those are basic components I would say.

Beocenter 9000, Beogram 4000 development

Timothy:

But just to give you maybe a better understanding, I will show you some slides later so you can see our working method. But if you take that piece over there, the Beoenter 9000, when we made that here. Jacob had meetings with the Bang & Olufsen development people every Wednesday. When I joined in '78 and I was just sitting there like a fly on the wall listening, and they would say they had to make a new piece. They had been successful with the previous center which has a tape deck, a turntable and a radio, so they thought they should do something more. They started looking into the CD market. And from that, we define the concept. Tape deck, CD, radio, we made 76 models of that in one-to-one before we were satisfied.

Nebeker:

Is that right?

Timothy:

Yes.

Nebeker:

Physical models?

Timothy:

Physical models.

Jensen:

The idea of this lit [unintelligible] Now see, this idea of this [unintelligible passage] has never been done before. [unintelligible passage] but they could see this is the future. Nobody else had that. But all this comes from [unintelligible passage] input, output [unintelligible passage]. So we bring this in and say, "Okay [unintelligible passage]."

Nebeker:

It probably picked up most of that, but that was the Beocenter 9000.

Timothy:

Yes, but I mean that's twenty years later.

Nebeker:

Yes, right, but just so we have the basic story on that, when was that completed?

Jensen:

This one?

Nebeker:

Yes.

Jensen:

Early '80s.

Nebeker:

In the early '80s and you said it went through in your hands 76 prototypes before you had design models.

Timothy:

Conceptual design models.

Jensen:

You put it on the table here and they are going to say what is wrong with it now?

Timothy:

That is like everything that we do in this house, and that is the way we have been doing it for thirty years. We work and we rework and we rework and we rework until it is correct.

Jensen:

For instance that gramophone you like out there is I think one of the better things [unintelligible passage]. But this made with no influence at all from Bang & Olufsen. Not only the design, but the insides, the engineering, every damn bit is made outside of the company. One day we decided to make a gramophone.

Nebeker:

You mean you personally, or this is meeting with Bang & Olufsen?

Jensen:

No, in connection with this meeting. I mean this has worked that way all the years I've worked with these people. And it is a good way of working, and they are good people to work with. So they started with one group at Bang & Olufsen and one group outside. I was in the outside group, and there was me and my old friend Mr. Zeuthen, a genius of an engineer. So we made a proposal, and that's what you see out there. I made the design and he made the idea with the two arms.

Nebeker:

Parallel tracking.

Jensen:

Yes.

Nebeker:

Now he was an electrical engineer?

Jensen:

He could do everything. He was an electrical engineer, he was a mechanical engineer, he could do optics.

Timothy:

He was a genius. He engineered the only Danish airplanes ever, the Kay-Zed, small aircraft. They are still in the air when the wind was against them.

Jensen:

And he had made orders for this duplicating office equipment. That was also him.

Nebeker:

So you had worked with him before?

Jensen:

Oh, yes, many years before. So what happened was that we had decided why don't you guys try outside and we will try inside to see who will get the best result, and there was this kind of free competition and a good atmosphere. So Zeuthen and I we went home and we made some ideas and he made some ideas, and finally we went down in his basement. He had a beautiful villa and in the basement he had all the most delicate equipment and machinery, of all kinds of machinery, because he made all this, [unintelligible passage] and big, big telescopes. And we came to that solution there and put it on the table and everybody said "Wow" because nobody had seen this kind of arm before.

Nebeker:

Yes, that's one idea. What's the idea with the pair of arms?

Jensen:

Well one is obviously a pick up, right? This is an arm that goes in and sees this stripes on there. So at that time, even a little recorder, there is no record and it will speed up to 45 and then, here is the record, there is a record on but it is a little record, change the speed and then it drops and then it plays the 45. So the thing was that when they saw that, and I think maybe as you and me and many, many other people got a little bit involved in it. So they decided to try it in the market and it went out to try in the market, and I think the Danish, what is it called, [unintelligible passage] two or three you could price that two or three, because it is an expensive thing, and the export marks up maybe fifty. But, then as I said it is the beautiful part of the spirit of Bang & Olufsen is that they say, "Goddamn, we like it, we believe it, we will do it anyway, we will take the chance and do it." And that's the very spirit.

Nebeker:

Now, just to get it on the tape, this is the Beogram 4000, completed in '72 that we are talking about, right?.

Jensen:

Yes.

Timothy:

And the beauty of that product is that ever since that Bang & Olufsen made turntables that was like the mother of all turntables ever made after that one.

Bang & Olufsen business models, production

Jensen:

And then they went out and then they produced it and put it in the market and it became a success, people said that is something fine. But from the very beginning and all through the products they have done, and still I am going to have to say that even what they do today, is so much influenced by all this pioneer work that was done way back then.

Nebeker:

To try to understand a little better this particular product, there are a number of new ideas here, it seems to me, the sensor arm, the parallel tracking, the extremely flat look of this thing, and the very flat control panel, this seems quite unusual.

Jensen:

So what happened was Mr. Latham, a big shot in strategy and design, said to Bang & Olufsen and he has also said it to General Electric, "If you have this, have seen and understood that, you would have been as successful Bang & Olufsen in the world and maybe the American consumer electronics industry. Maybe if you had been able to do this, maybe there would be a chance that it wouldn't die." But it did die and no one cared And I think this is a very interesting point that he could see this and say, "If you had gone to General Electric they would have been the Bang & Olufsen."

Nebeker:

Now, I can imagine that when you come to Bang & Olufsen with this proposal, they say, "Oh that's very interesting and very clever and so on, but it is going to be terribly expensive to develop the controls for that to make it that flat, you know, the manufacturing costs are going to be very high." Don't you get that kind of response?

Jensen:

Yes, but that was the response, and that's why when they took it out to dealer's to the statistical [unintelligible passage] who sold that gramophone [unintelligible passage]. So he cannot sell it because we can see in the statistics that we don't sell gramophones to [unintelligible passage] because it had never been done before. But maybe he sells a few to some nuts that are around. But they believe [in] the product, and it got this attention and it was a success. Many of these products were designed for Bang & Olufsen. Very often had this attitude when it is shown, well, isn't that too strange? Not in the factory so much because Jens Bang and Knute Holst who I understand you will interview tomorrow. It was Holst, Myrapea and Harver and Jens and me. This was a group that was working with this thing. I was an idea and design guy, as you can understand, and, Jens was the statistic feeling for what is going on in the world, that was his job. We worked with a team of technical engineers, and Kemp was the sales man. This was the four people who were running this factory for a long, long time, all done there, all developed there. And I remember we had a very good director, Olaf Goul.

Nebeker:

But there must have been some back and forth with the engineers who know production techniques who would say, "Well, that's a very good idea but if we do it a little bit differently we can make the price a lot lower."

Jensen:

Yes, that happens all the time, but mainly I would say that, and this is maybe one of Jens' bigger forces, that if he could see, we could see, that it would roll the basic design, the basic feeling, the basic understanding, the basic vibration money for the products. Then they were beginning to pay that extra because it was an essential for selling the product, that it had that special thing around it.

Timothy:

I think you said it very clear once, and I think that had become a culture of Bang & Olufsen, that Jacob says once I was sitting out with him or whatever it was, that anyone here in Bang & Olufsen that believes that we are manufacturing hi-fi and television should be sacked or at least retrained because that we are not. We are making lifestyle here.

And that was their survival that they found this niche, they found this world, because everybody else, as Jacob started saying earlier this morning, that everybody else that was in northern Europe everybody died. There was heaps of those kinds of manufacturers, but they didn't have any idea, any profile, any identity.

Design and engineering

Nebeker:

Now, so you deliver this design and there is some back and forth. When they actually go to production, do they sometimes make changes in the appearance of the product without consulting you?

Jensen:

No. What happens is that becomes a circumstance in the product the way it should look and the specification and all this, and by that time we call in production people. But of course in that group we are talking about is an engineer sitting all the time saying, "I don't think so. That would be very difficult. Well then, maybe it could be done, it will be difficult, but let's try. Let's see if we can invent something so it can be done." The trick is, very simple, the trick is to make the product so attractive that everybody wants to make the solution so it works.

Nebeker:

So you are sort of where you can push the engineering?

Jensen:

I wouldn't say that it's a matter of pushing the engineering; it's a matter of getting the engineer, the production engineer, to taking into reality, to get him to fall in love with it. He wants to do that. I don't think I ever had a fight with the engineers, I have been working together with them where it had been a matter of inspiring the engineers, and understand the problems of cost, understand the production technique, yes you have to as a designer, understand the weighing technique, the casting technique, the bending technique, all these possibilities because if you cannot do that they no longer talk to you.

Nebeker:

Well also there are genuine technical limits to how flat something can be or how light something can be? At any particular stage if in the 1920s a designer said I want a radio to be pocket sized? I mean there are limits to how flat it can be?

Jensen:

Well I don't think there are limits to the imagination. What we have done and what Timothy and I have done together [unintelligible passage]. But you will have a thing like that and there will be no mechanism in it, but not all of these stupid things, but it will be a small [unintelligible passage] or whatever it is in there. Well if that is the case, what should it look like then? Let's see that.

Timothy:

We have done it recently with Gaggenau Hausgeräte the German manufacturer of kitchen appliances. And, we've done it with Bang & Olufsen together with Gibbs Bang in the beginning of the '80s. We literally filled up this room with cardboard studies, concept models, and you can see some of them are coming into production now. You know, we made a whole kind of black box system and [unintelligible passage] remote controls, and you name it.

Nebeker:

So what you are saying is that the designer shouldn't be constrained by the present technology.

Jensen:

No, not at the beginning. Timothy has a very interesting book:

Timothy:

It's called The Expert States, and one of them is the marketing director of I think it is IBM or one of the big computer manufacturers, and he said in 1977 he said, "It is an obscure thought that people ever would have a computer in their private homes."

Jensen:

This kind of thing you could see all the time, and certainly like the calculator, electrical, calculator. They will only be for the universities, this kind of stuff. Fill a whole room.

Design concepts and materials

Nebeker:

A final question about this Beoogram 4000. Another thing that is very often special about Bang & Olufsen products are the surfaces.Is that also part of your design concept?

[End of tape 1, side a ]

Nebeker:

So when you proposed this you have said exactly you want wood here, you want this kind of aluminum?

Jensen:

I will tell you the truth. The truth is that we bought cardboard with aluminum on it, and that was what I did then, took a steel sponge and very carefully made this pattern on this cardboard, and then I made the models out of this cardboard and that's why this is always striped, so it looks it looks like aluminum. It looks like it is a little hand feeling it right, and that is why it looks like that. It is as simple as that.

Nebeker:

So the texture of the surfaces is also something you've given thought to?

Jensen:

Yes, because I did this carefully, and there was a certain technique of doing this with the steel sponge. And then they see that, and that's the trick again. If they like it, "Jesus, that looks nice." It is not a question should we do it, no. The question is how do we do it. And what problems do we have here? Plenty of problems, but how do we do it. I did a demo loudspeaker, I think it is in here maybe.

Timothy:

Yes. That is a funny little story it is extruded aluminum, it is here, this family here, and it is the only product that Bang & Olufsen had in their program ever since they started which has been manufactured for more than 25 years unchanged. It is identical.

Nebeker:

This is the Beovox CX50 and CX100.

Jensen:

Yes. And that is the same thing again. It is this technique, and then cutting it out and piecing the model. And then they see this product and say, "Gee, that looks nice. How do we do that?" Then the trick is to work it over again and again and again, in such a way that you are yourself in love with it. Because the chances when you take it and put it on the table in front of somebody else and they see it, if you work so long time that you fall in love with it, they will also fall in love with it. And if you want to explain an idea you keep working. We have some patterns and completely new ideas, and you put this wonderful idea in front of somebody and they say, "Now what's the idea in that? But if you come and put it on the table they say, "Jesus that is a wonderful idea. How do we do that?" Then half the battle has been done.

Nebeker:

Yes, your idea of immediate communication from the form of the ideology.

Jensen:

And the form and the sense of such a thing and all this, this is also a design for the design board.

Nebeker:

I am still probably seeing things more from the engineers' side. Knute Holst told me yesterday how difficult it was to get these polished aluminum surfaces. They had to work with different suppliers and it was very difficult. Now, one could imagine where it would be so expensive to get the type of surface, you know, with the weight requirements and so on, that you have conceived that the product will be too expensive to sell.

Jensen:

Now listen, if we have made a compromise of giving up, Bang & Olufsen wouldn't exist. It is as simple as that.

Timothy:

And I mean you take a piece like that over there, when that was introduced to the market it was like four thousand US dollars. You could buy one which would do exactly the same for you with the same kind of performance and the same kind of warranty and everything for five hundred dollars. It is another world. But I think it is fair to say that basically there is no industrial products which are 100 percent. They are of course all compromises, of course they are, because you need the price problem always and you need engineering, and the timing and that has to be ready for the fair, and we can't make these kind of coatings, get something else, and all this. But I think what Jacob was saying is you have to fight and believe a lot for what you believe in, otherwise the compromise is going to be too big. I think that product over there is maybe 95% of what we wanted.

Jensen:

We had this wonderful idea, we had this one, you can even see it on the graphics, was when you came with your tape and narrowed down to the opening it saw your hand and opened automatically, and you put it in and took your hand away and it closed again.

Timothy:

But that was too difficult. We couldn't handle that in those days with the sensors. But now they are using it for the 25 [unintelligible passage] you see there.

Jensen:

I would pick up the same idea again because that is so obvious. You can see on the graphics over there, the graphic is still there from this operation.

Nebeker:

Okay. So that is an example of at that moment it wasn't feasible, but some years later it was produced.

Jensen:

Yes, it was too difficult at that time. Too many complications. We tried to make a photo cell sitting looking at the thing. There was all kinds of problems.

Nebeker:

So that was a case of where the engineers said this is just going to take too long to develop.

Jensen:

Yes, I think everybody realized that this is too high a price to pay. And I mean I remember that the height here from there to there is 65 millimeters. It was in those days that we wanted it to be lower from the deck, from the CD deck that they have got in Japan or wherever it came from, and we said we want it flatter than that. And they said if you want a flatter one you have to buy 200,000 pieces a year or something like that. That's a compromise, of course.

Nebeker:

But also I wanted to be clear on they don't make changes in your design without your approval.

Jensen:

We keep it right all the way to production, and have to. I mean if you take a thing like this, the designer influence on this is everything. I mean look at it. It could work a hundred different ways and if it cost a fourth of what it cost, but you were able to sell this for this price. Why? Because it looks like that. It is not the performance of the damned product; it is the story of product tale. It is the design language, the communication.

Bang & Olufsen exports, Bang & Olufsen design identity

Nebeker:

Now, you began working with Bang & Olufsen you said in '64, which is about the time that they started doing a large amount, I have some figures here, a large amount of export business. In the early years they were producing mainly for Denmark and to a lesser for other Scandinavian countries, and then in the '60s the export market started to become very big for Bang & Olufsen, and then recently it is three quarters of the world.

Jensen:

Very big except for Germany.

Nebeker:

Yes, it was 76 percent of their sales in 1990 was for the export market.

Jensen:

Holland, England, Sweden.

Nebeker:

Whereas in 1960 only 4.5 percent was. And also we have in this period, late '60s, '70s, 80s, the company more and more focusing on what is called the niche market.

Jensen:

Absolutely. But there was no other way to survive. They tried to compete with the Japanese on the Japanese rate but couldn't. I remember especially one situation where they asked me could you please make a Japanese stack. Make a Bang & Olufsen of Japanese stacks. So, at first I made Bang & Olufsen Japanese, tried out the look of a Japanese product. Yes, it looked like a Japanese product.

Nebeker:

This is the Beosystem 6500?

Jensen:

Yes. But it looked like a Japanese product, you couldn't see it was a Bang & Olufsen. And we had this big meeting, everybody was sitting around and I tried to present this, and I had it on the floor, and I had planned this of course before, and I said to them, "This is definite." I was screaming and yelling and I jumped up in the air with both of my feet on this, and it exploded like you take a paper bag. I said, "This is finished, gentlemen. It is true!" And then I went home and then we made this stack, and the world said when they came "this is the best of two worlds."

Timothy:

That is what the Japanese hi-fi magazine said, they said "the best of two worlds."

Jensen:

Because it is a stack, but it is a Bang & Olufsen stack.

Timothy:

And I think one of the very strong components in the world, this has been done for Bang & Olufsen is the whole remote control. But it is like just beautiful art, it is black box system which has the software in there, but the whole operation panel is out where you want it.

Nebeker:

I see.

Jensen:

And now we are talking Bang & Olufsen because that is a great part of our work that we have done and many, many other things. But we have used the same technique, working technique at other companies.

Nebeker:

Yes. But you mentioned the Bang & Olufsen identity. Are you very consciously designing in a certain style when you worked for them?

Jensen:

No. I took my knowledge from General Electric with me. And here comes another company they are saying more or less the same thing as Bang & Olufsen, "What shall we do? What will the future be?"

Nebeker:

Right, but that is what I am asking for, to say twenty years after you have sort of established this look, are you very consciously maintaining that look for the Bang & Olufsen products?

Jacob Jensen and Bang & Olufsen design identities; telephone design

Timothy:

Well, we stopped working for them in '91. So I think that you can say that Jacob Jensen is Bang & Olufsen and Bang & Olufsen is Jacob Jensen, because as an external consultancy he developed the identity, but he wasn't with them; he was on his own. So that is our style, it is the style of this house, this is the way we like to do things, this is the way we are good at doing things. And it is also their style.

Nebeker:

Yes. So, it is not as if you have imagined a certain identity for them and you are doing that for them and for some other manufacturer you would have to create some other identity.

Jensen:

Of course, but it depends on the circumstances, and the feel. So it depends a lot on does the company of the client have an identity that they want to maintain or do they want to build up a new identity. Most of the clients who calls us up call us up because of the work we have done of the style of this house.

Jensen:

See this telephone here.

Nebeker:

Maybe we can talk about that.

Jensen:

Yes. This telephone is done.

Timothy:

Well it came on the market in '77. It was called E76 because it was electronic and it was meant to come on the market in '76, but as all other development projects it was one year later.

Jensen:

But at that time nothing looked like this, absolutely nothing. The question is do you see here the Bang & Olufsen identity? No. It doesn't look like it. It looks likes a Jacob Jensen. This is a trick. When I came to this solution and I presented that after, you can see this is a working process you see here, what we have shown some of all the developments for this thing. This was the result, and this had never been done before. This is the way that old people can have the hand here and you can do this and you can easily get your hand in here and you can easily take your hand so that you don't do all these kind of funny things.

Nebeker:

Have you done telephones for Bang & Olufsen?

Jensen:

No.

Timothy:

Well, we have done telephones for Bang & Olufsen which have not come into production.

Jensen:

Yes.

Timothy:

Studies. I mean has put in millions, hundred of studies of all kinds of products.

Jensen:

But this is done in '74, '75. It is developed and the design developed. They are still producing it today.

Timothy:

It has been in production for twenty years.

Jensen:

I mean in this telephone market, this is still the telephone market where the Japanese come for three markets per year. They didn't have a thing like this where they can produce those for twenty years.

Nebeker:

Yes, that is remarkable.

Jensen:

But the thing is about many of the products we have done have been on the market for twenty years, too.

Timothy:

Twenty five years.

Product proposals

Nebeker:

Beosystem 4500.

Timothy:

Well hang on, because when it came out it was called Beomaster 1900, that is the flat one standing out there, but that basic design and that basic product has been face-lifted a lot of times. The one who did Michael Jackson couldn't have done it better. It has been face-lifted probably ten times, but it is still the same product.

Jensen:

Many of the tubes are the same. Things like that. But I mean this is I think what people are telling us, Tim and me, that our products have a tendency to be on the market for a long time, like this Honeywell. That little round thing for over twenty years the same thing.

Nebeker:

You mentioned that there were a lot of telephone studies for Bang & Olufsen, a lot of other studies, products you proposed that were not produced. So there is a high ratio of proposals that never went into production to the ones that did?

Jensen:

Yes.

Timothy:

I think that goes with all clients that we work with, and that is the whole trick. They say "Okay we want to do something new." You try to cover or to spread out that world and say, "Well here are the seven options, or the five options or the ten or the fifteen options that we see. You could do this, this will have probably these kind of consequences." And then they say, "We believe in this, but let's take some other ideas from proposal number four and let's take the shape from number seven and let's combine it."

Nebeker:

Yes, but just as there are some back and forth with the production engineers, development production engineers, there must also be some back and forth I imagine with sales people. Are sometimes when you think "this is really a good product" and they said no it wasn't?

Jensen:

No, I don't think so. Well, but I think I'm looking at the different people's point of view here, because I believe that the developing of Bang & Olufsen's products and why we never had to fight for the way anything was is that we were growing together.

Nebeker:

So you had enough of a feel for the market that Bang & Olufsen had that you wouldn't make proposals that are not going to fit with their company.

Jensen:

No, because the way I see it is that group, and maybe me because I was the guy who was coming with the ideas, they never came with anything and said, "Why don't we do this?"

Timothy:

I mean they brought in new technology and new components, but I think what you are talking about is design and conceptual things where they say, "Well, here is this flat speaker from Japan," or "Here is this CD movement from Philips."

Jensen:

It is kind of a thing, but I mean Bang & Olufsen always was late in developing because Philips had to do it first. After they had come to sell it and found out that some Japanese and then [unintelligible passage] CD now, this is interesting, so it is kind of this way. But of course the adjustment of should we go into CDs, should we go into the compact cassette, this has gone on for a long time. I think we were some of the latest people to take the concept of the cassette tape. But this has gone.

Nebeker:

Tape cassette, cassette tape for recorders.

Jensen:

Yes. I think so.

Beolit 600 transistor radio

Nebeker:

Well I can see that in those areas. Now I wanted to also ask you about this transistor radio, the Beolit 600.

Jensen:

That is exactly the same thing. This is done together with my friend Kokesoid, 100 percent.

Nebeker:

Is that right?

Jensen:

All the detailing, all of this was his idea actually, but the small balls running down the magnet underneath. Every damn detail here is done by him, I have done the design ideas, but the construction of it is done by him.

Nebeker:

I see. He is also external to the company, to Bang & Olufsen?

Jensen:

Yes, he is only attached to me. I pay him. But, we do that with many people. All the way into production we are finding the people.

Beomic 2000 microphone

Nebeker:

This microphone, this is the Beomic 2000.

Jensen:

Yes. This is a very difficult job for me to make this microphone. It was a pipe, a tube and a little filter, that's all. And how in the heck can you put an idea into that?

Timothy:

How can you add value?

Jensen:

How could you add so much value to it, I want this instead of that. So what I did was, the legs here can be folded up and turn the top so you have another microphone and you go [pop sound with mouth] and it can stand. Yeah, now it is a microphone. It is not a microphone, now it is a tool for something else. But the attention it gets as it goes. Now we see that's an idea

Nebeker:

Yes.

Jensen:

And this is again we thought we should make a microphone ó we shouldn't.

BeoVox 2500 cube speaker

Nebeker:

Yes, that is a good example of bringing a new idea to it. I like this speaker very much, I wanted to ask you about the BeoVox 2500, the cube speaker. How did that come about?

Jensen:

The idea was at that time to make high tuners bigger, that go around in the whole room, so therefore we made this cube with six speakers in that could hang or it could stand on the table. There was a lot of problems with it, but again when people saw it they say [unintelligible passage]. It is actually a piece of wood; it is not plastic. It is a piece of wood where somebody has drilled some holes into it and then made a nice surface on it. It is a very nice looking speaker, and it a 100 percent functional. That speaker set in the store, it functions very well, and it doesn’t make too much noise to look at.

Nebeker:

Was it your idea to make it cube shaped?

Jensen:

Yes, because it was always our idea.

Nebeker:

Yes and to turn it at that angle. And I think that is just a very pleasing design.

Jensen:

Yes it is; it is believable. It is very believable. The designers don't change the products that show too well. It is probably too expensive or too strange, but personally I think it is very nice speaker as that.

Madison step and tool box

Timothy:

And I think to get back to some of the things that we said earlier is that I think one of the forces of this house here is that when we start working with a project we try to dive deeply into it and understand what is the actual problem here. Is it a performance problem? Is it a psychological problem? Is it identity, is it whatever? And over here, here is four kilos of plastic with ideas in it, right, because who the hell wants to buy four kilos of plastic? Nobody, right? But if you put some ideas into it. This is a stack and tool box, that is what it is called. It has a handle it has dividers in here where they put the stuff, you can put your hacksaw in through this slot coming out here so it can hang here. We [unintelligible] same tools, so you save some tools, it is the same hammer and the same bit, and we add this stuff in here, and so we have a combination possibility. And I think the most problematic part is this, it takes a great release through these flaps here, and what is it? It is four kilos of plastic that somebody has added ideas to.

Jensen:

It's finding ideas.

Nebeker:

Just to get it on the tape, this is the Madison tool box.

Timothy:

The Madison step and tool box.

Timothy:

It only weighs four kilos.

Jensen:

You could fill it up with different things and there you are.

Alarm clock prototype

Jensen:

This is a prototype, but the guy, Max Aneda, wanted an alarm clock. I mean just make an alarm clock. But I mean there are hundred and thousands of alarm clocks on this planet, so what we did with this thing we had to give it some idea. This never came into production; this is just a prototype. But now it is on. You know when the little bell, when the red and off and on and all these bloody symbols and you come to all these crazy hotels, you can never work these things out. Now it is off, now it is on.

Nebeker:

Yes, there should be immediate communication with this. I know I have taken a lot of your time.

Working relationship with Bang & Olufsen; design credits

Nebeker:

But what haven't I asked about in your relations with Bang & Olufsen that you might want to comment on? You have had good relations over the thirty years?

Jensen:

Oh, we had a wonderful relationship, a beautiful twenty years of hard work but it was very, very good years. When I was fifty I said "Okay, I had been doing this since I was thirteen, working since I was thirteen, now I say that is enough." Then they came and said "Would you like to work for three more years and we will pay you three extra years for salary without working." So I worked for them three more years.

Nebeker:

In '93?

Timothy:

No, in '81 Jacob left with his yacht and then I was running the company for a couple of years. And I left the company and so other people were running it and had Bang & Olufsen as a client. Jacob came home every month or so for every presentation, and then I took over the company in '89.

Nebeker:

I see.

Jensen:

But the working relationship with Bang & Olufsen was fantastic. There was great understanding from the top people.

Nebeker:

In some product lines there is a tradition for naming the designer. Has Bang & Olufsen done that in their marketing?

Jensen:

I think that they have tried to promote themselves and they have not promoted me in all of these years. Of course in exhibitions and designs and various this and that they do. But out in public, no.

Nebeker:

So their boxes never say "Designed by Jacob Jensen."

Jensen:

No. They only had one designer to run the whole show for fifteen years, that was kind of a secret, little bit of a secret.

Nebeker:

The fact that it wasn't their own design you mean?

Jensen:

Well, it was not a design where they had a designer sitting outside, they could control him 100 percent.

Nebeker:

So they didn't want to advertise the fact?

Timothy:

No, of course not.

Jensen:

It was uncomfortable for them that if it had been known that they were depending on one little man that is sitting out here by the fjord, that was the way it was.

Timothy:

And also I think that goes generally with a lot of companies that when they have built up a good status, a good identity they want to maintain that. They don't want to make a Mercedes designed by Peterson and next year it is designed by Matteson or whoever.

Nebeker:

Yes, they want a corporate identity and not Jacob Jensen.

Jensen:

Of course, that is natural.

Nebeker:

Well I think you have given me a good picture of your working relations with the company.

Jensen:

Yes, and I think that is probably what you wanted.

Timothy:

And we have been around for 38 years, so there is a long story to tell. So if you want more information or whatever I can get something together and I will send it to you, or you send us a fax or give me a ring and I can send you slides and pictures and you name it. We have heaps of materials and scrap books for the last thirty years and stuff like that.

Nebeker:

Well thank you both very much.

[End of interview]