Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Radio Cubo (model TS 502) radio | Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper | Brionvega, Italy | 1964

Marco Zanuso and Richard SapperMarco Zanuso and Richard Sapper
Brionvega, Italy

Brionvega is an electronics company founded in Milan, Italy by Giuseppe and Rina Brion in 1945.  At its beginning, the company manufactured radios and later moved into manufacturing televisions. Design aesthetics did not play a major role in the company’s products until the early 1960s, when designers such as Mario Bellini, Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Richard Sapper, and Marco Zanuso became involved with Brionvega.

Brionvega logo

In 2004 SIM2 Multimedia acquired the Brionvega division dealing with audio products and the license to use the brand, in order to manufacture and market new products and new versions of historical Brionvega products.

Marco Zanuso was born in Milan, Italy on May 14, 1916. He studied architecture from 1935 until 1939 at Milan Polytechnic. In 1945, Zanuso opened an office in Milan and worked as an architect, urban planner and designer. He served as the editor of Domus in the late 40s and Casabella in the early 50s. Zanuso was a founding member of the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI) in 1956 and was its president from 1966 until 1969.  Zanuso died July 11, 2001 at his home in Milan.  Below are the objects for which Marco Zanuso won the Compasso d’Oro. Collaborations with Richard Sapper are shown at the end of this section.

Marco Zanuso Compasso d’Oro Awards

1102 Superautomatica

1956 sewing machine, “1102 Superautomatica,” Borletti.
Image source:  ok-salute.
Controsoffitto ceiling fan for open spaces

1979 “Controsoffitto” ceiling fan for open spaces, Karl Steiner, Limbiate, Milan. Image source:  Guida XX Edizione Premio Compasso d’Oro.
Ariante fan

1979 fan “Ariante,” Marco Zanuso, Vortice Elettrosociali Spa, Tribiano, Milan 1974. Image source.
Compasso d'Oro

1985 Lifetime achievement.  Image source:  ADI.

Richard Sapper was born in 1932 in Munich, Germany, and is an industrial designer based in Milan, Italy.  He studied philosophy, anatomy, graphic design, and engineering, and later received a degree in economics in 1956. Sapper worked briefly in the design division at Mercedes Benz before moving to Milan in 1957, where he worked with Alberto Rosselli and Gio Ponti and became a designer in the design division of the La Rinascente department store chain. He joined forces with Marco Zanuso in the late 1950s with their collaboration lasting until 1977.  Below are the objects for which Richard Sapper won the Compasso d’Oro. Collaborations with Marco Zanuso are shown at the end of this section.

Richard Sapper Compasso d’Oro Awards

Static clock

1960 Clock, “Static,” Richard Sapper, Lorenz Spa, Milan. Image source.
Model 9090 espresso coffee maker

1979 Espresso coffee maker, model 9090, Richard Sapper, Alessi, 1979, Crusinallo, Novara. Image source.
Dalle nove alle cinque office furniture

1987 System of office furniture, “Dalle nove alle cinque” (From nine to five), Richard Sapper, Castelli Spa, Bologna. Image source.
Sistema componibile per ponti fissi per pale caricatrici
1991 Sistema componibile per ponti fissi per pale caricatrici “Ponti 180/182” Richard Sapper, Hurth Axle, Arco, Trento.  Image source:  Guida XX Edizione Premio Compasso d’Oro.
Leapfrog portable computer

1994 Portable computer, “Leapfrog,” Richard Sapper, IBM Corporation. Image source.
Zoombike collapsible bicycle

1998 Collapsible bicycle for city, “Zoombike,” Richard Sapper, Francis Ferrarin, Elettromontaggi Srl, Massa Martana (PG). Image source.
Cobàn coffee maker

1998 Coffee maker, Cobàn, Richard Sapper, Alessi Spa, Crusinallo, Verbania. Image source.

Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper were previously featured in my post about the Ariante fan.  Three times they won the Compasso d’Oro for their collaborative efforts:  on the 1962 Portable television, “Doney,” the 1964 Small child’s chair “K 1340,” and the 1967 Folding telephone with built-in dial, “Grillo.”

Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper Collaborative Compasso d’Oro Awards 

Doney portable television 1962 Portable television, “Doney,” ABS plastic housing, 35 × 36 × 30 cm (Ambasz: p. 69: 11-3/4” × 13-3/4” × 11-3/4” or 30×36×30 cm), Marco Zanuso in collaboration with Richard Sapper, manufactured by Brionvega 1961 (1962). Image source.
K 1340 small child's chair 1964 Small child’s chair “K 1340,” Marco Zanuso in collaboration with Richard Sapper, Kartell Srl, Noviglio, Milan 1961 (in production 1967). Polyethylene, 19-3/4”H × 11”W × 11”D. Image source.
Grillo folding telephone 1967 Folding telephone with built-in dial, “Grillo” (Cricket), ABS plastic housing, 7 × 16 × 8 cm closed, Marco Zanuso in collaboration with Richard Sapper, manufactured by Italian Telecommunications Society, Siemens, 1965 (1967), Milan. Image source.

TS 502

The Radio Cubo (model TS 502) is a portable radio designed by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper.  The radio does not reveal its contents from the outside when closed.  In fact, Sapper explained the design by saying, “We wanted to create a radio that does not reveal its nature unless you open it.  We wanted to make objects for the home that do not show they are technology products unless you use them.”  When closed, it is a non descript box with rounded corners and edges that measures 230mm (9.1”) long by 130mm (5.1”) by 130mm (5.1”).   The TS 502 weighs 2.2kg (4lb 13.5 oz) with batteries, 1.78kg (just under 4 lbs) without.  The radio takes 6 × 1.5 Volt (C or R14) for a total of 9 V.

The TS 502 is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York here.  It is a two band radio, capable of receiving AM and FM.  The radio features a unique clamshell design which closes for transport. It opens into one side featuring the speaker and volume knob, and the other side featuring the knobs, dials, and instrumentation for operating the radio.  The upper dial is for control of the FM band and the lower dial is for control of the AM band.  The hinges come with grooves that allow for the passage of the connection cables between the two halves of the radio.  The two clamshell sides are made of ABS plastic.  A handle on the speaker side of the radio can be used for carrying the radio.Brionvega TS 502

Images above from eBay.it.  Here are pictures of the interior circuitry of the TS 502 radio.  Here is additional information about the TS 502 from radiomuseum.org. 

Brionvega TS 502 electrical schematic

Brionvega TS 502 electrical schematic.  Image source:  roetta.it IK3HIA web page.

The guts of the TS 502 have been modernized over the years, however the exterior design  has remained mostly unchanged.  What follows is a brief treatment of some of the models that have followed the TS 502

TS 505

The TS 505 from 1976 is a later version of the TS 502. When opened, it features a different set of controls with a tri-band radio.  This model accepts both AC and DC power. 

Brionvega TS 505

TS 512

The TS 512 is similar to the TS 502 in that it features only AM and FM band tuning.  However, this radio has controls and an interior that looks like the TS 505. 

Brionvega TS 512Brionvega TS 512

TS 522

The TS 522 was redesigned by Brionvega in 2001. This version features updated componentry but is essentially identical in appearance and control to the TS 502.  The TS 522CR features an additional digital clock radio.  The TS 522 has all the features of a modern radio.  The TS 522 comes in night black, red, snow white, sun-orange, sun-yellow, mint-green, and fuchsia (limited to 500 units). The TS 522 CR comes in night black, red, snow white, and sun-orange.  This version is still stocked and can be purchased retail.Brionvega TS 522Brionvega TS 522  Brionvega TS 522

Brionvega TS 522 User Manual

TS 522 User Manual.

TS 525

The TS 525 “RadioCubo.it” further modernized the radio by adding a remote control and an Apple compatible docking station.  It includes a radio alarm, RDS-system, radio function DAB/DAB+, internet connection Wi-Fi or Ethernet, LCD-display, connection for additional loudspeakers and USB.  Besides the classic radio function, Radiocubo.it is also a Web radio with more than 12,000 senders in all languages, which can be easily selected and saved on a practical display.  This current version is stocked and can be purchased retail.

Brionvega TS 525

TS 525 “RadioCubo.it”.  Image source.


Iovine, J. V. (2001, July 19). Marco Zanuso, 85, Innovative designer. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/19/arts/marco-zanuso-85-innovative-designer.html

Brionvega radiocubo ts525, le radio in streaming alla massima potenza. (2011, October 29). Retrieved from http://businessandtech.com/brionvega-radiocubo-ts525-le-radio-in-streaming-alla-massima-potenza/20385

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