Back in 1970, modernist designer Mario Bellini came up with a gravity-defying design for an audio system. The piece was both equipment and art and consisted of a cube that measured half a metre and was done completely in white. The unassuming cube unfolded to reveal a top of the line stereo system that incorporated a turntable and an AM/FM radio. The controls were concealed by the wings, which also doubled as the speakers, that would fold out. Dubbed the Totem, the system was released to a huge success and eventually became a part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent design collection, alongside 23 other designs from Bellini. Italian audio specialist Brionvega is re-releasing this monumental design to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Totem.
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The new RR231 Totem Stereo System from Brionvega will be sold through the MoMA Design Store and features the same shape as the original. However, things have been updated for this new system. The new stereo system now includes space for DAB as well as a USB output. The speakers have also been upgraded. They now offer a reflex-loading woofer, a mid-woofer, and a tweeter
. They can also be separated from the main unit and placed in other parts of the room to create a more complete and rich listening experience. The unit includes the ProJect turntable. Controls are a set of minimalistic and modern buttons and dials that add to the aesthetic rather than distract from it. As an added bonus, each unit will also be numbered and signed by Mario Bellini himself.
As far as recreations of historic and influential pieces, you won’t do much better than the RR231 Totem Stereo System from Brionvega. Adding one of these works of art to your home or audio system will cost you USD$18,800.