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Brionvega TS502

Radio
1963 (designed), 1964 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

From the late 1950s, several noteworthy Italian designers became interested in the inherently plastic (i.e mouldable) quality of plastics, producing landmark designs such as Joe Colombo's 'Universale' stacking chair (see CIRC.887-1968) and Zanotta 'Blow' inflatable chair (see W.35-2010). These designers strove to celebrate man-made plastics as a group of materials with unique aesthetic and physical characteristics, to try to change the widespread perception of plastics as being cheap, shoddy and useful solely to imitate more expensive natural materials.

The box-like Brionvega TS502 radio was designed jointly by Marco Zanuso (1916-2001) and Richard Sapper (born 1932), who had gone into partnership in the late-1950s. The gleaming yellow ABS plastic shell folds open halfway along its length, allowing access to all of its controls. It is powered by six batteries, its portability and visual softness associates the TS502 with informal 'Pop' interiors of the 1960s, while also granting it a sense of intrigue and surprise.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional Title'Cube' radio (popular title)
Materials and Techniques
ABS plastic and aluminium
Brief Description
TS502 portable radio; folding cube-shape; yellow ABS plastic and aluminium; Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper; Brionvega, Italy, 1963-4
Physical Description
Yellow plastic body in the form of a double cube, folding open in the middle, on die-cast hinges, to reveal the receiver. The interior is black, with white dial numbers. The controls are on the right, and the speaker is to the left. Junction cables pass through the hinges connecting both boxes. There is a telescopic aerial on outer edge. Power supply is from six 1.5V batteries.

Dimensions
  • Height: 13cm
  • Depth: 22cm
  • Width: 13cm
Style
Production typeMass produced
Gallery Label
  • [20th century gallery] 4. RADIO: ‘TS502’ 1963 This battery-operated radio only reveals its function when folded open in the middle of the double-cube. Its widely-praised design celebrated the possibilities allowed by modern plastics. Portable, softly shaped and available in a range of bright colours, the object would have fit neatly into informal Pop-inspired interiors. Italy Designed by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper Manufactured by Brionvega Plastic and aluminium Museum no. Circ.502-1973 (2015)
  • [20th century gallery] BRIONVEGA FOLDING RADIO MODEL TS 502 Designed by Marco Zanuso (Italian, born 1916) and Richard Sapper (German, born 1932) Made by Brionvega, Italy, 1966 ABS plastic shell, chrome trim, die-cast hinges Circ.5-1974 The practicality of this design is matched by its intriguing toy-like qualities. When closed the speaker and controls are hidden in a hinged box that invites play. The Compasso d'Oro citation praised its '...perfect, apparently inorganic shell, which reveals the source of life only when it opens...' (1980s? - 1990s?)
Object history
Object bought by Circulation Department from Zarach, 183 Sloane Street, London SW 1 on 13th November 1973



Historical significance: Awards: 2. BIO Lubljana in 1966, Bundespreis 'Gute Form' in 1969, Compass D'Oro in 1970. The latter of these awards was in conjunction with the extended Brionvega range (see CIRC.5-1974), the design's citation for this award included the quote "...perfect, apparently inorganic shell, which reveals the source of life only after it opens..."



A white example of this model was acquired in 1970 by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In its original production run it was available in red, black, ochre and yellow.

Production
Attribution note: radio still manufactured with some changes (TS502, TS505, TS512 and TS522)
Summary
From the late 1950s, several noteworthy Italian designers became interested in the inherently plastic (i.e mouldable) quality of plastics, producing landmark designs such as Joe Colombo's 'Universale' stacking chair (see CIRC.887-1968) and Zanotta 'Blow' inflatable chair (see W.35-2010). These designers strove to celebrate man-made plastics as a group of materials with unique aesthetic and physical characteristics, to try to change the widespread perception of plastics as being cheap, shoddy and useful solely to imitate more expensive natural materials.



The box-like Brionvega TS502 radio was designed jointly by Marco Zanuso (1916-2001) and Richard Sapper (born 1932), who had gone into partnership in the late-1950s. The gleaming yellow ABS plastic shell folds open halfway along its length, allowing access to all of its controls. It is powered by six batteries, its portability and visual softness associates the TS502 with informal 'Pop' interiors of the 1960s, while also granting it a sense of intrigue and surprise.
Bibliographic References
  • domus No. 436, March 1966, n.p.
  • Die Neue Sammlung. Eine Auswahl aus dem Besitz des Museums, Munich, 1972, image 174
  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York, London, 1984, 452, No. 752
  • p.124Hawes, Robert, Radio Art (London, 1991)
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.502-1973

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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