Design Moment: Jacob Jensen’s turnaround turntable, 1972
Jensen’s turntable for Bang & Olufsen introduced a minimalist aesthetic to home audio equipment
Beogram 4000: the simple and striking beauty of Jensen’s design influenced all others that followed
In its 1978 exhibition, Design for Sound by Jacob Jensen, the Museum of Modern Art in New York hung the Danish designer’s work for Bang & Olufsen on the wall like prized artworks. So the Beogram 4000 turntable was flat against a white wall (its cover removed), with space all around it, so viewers could better appreciate its simple and striking beauty.
When it was designed in 1972, a turntable had long been as much a piece of furniture in the home as a sofa, but Jensen’s design introduced a minimalist aesthetic to home audio equipment that would influence all others that followed.
His Beogram 4000 combined stainless steel, aluminium and rosewood while streamlining the necessary buttons into discrete light-touch surface elements. The functionality was new too – the twin pick-up arm glided across rather than move in a clunky arc – one arm playing, the other with an embedded optical device “reading” the record for size and speed. The arm could be deployed without lifting the cover, just by touching the side of the unit.
He made the turntable look exactly how it should – a sophisticated piece of modern technology – without any concession to suburban interiors. The impact of his design can be measured in the speed with which it was celebrated at the prestigious museum.