The Great Dane of Design

Since the sixties David Lewis has been churning out products for Denmark's Bang & Olufsen that are not only technological wonders but also museumworthy. Though he's the company's chief designer, Lewis has also created gadgets for such brands as Electrolux and Voss, but it's his B&O designs that have generated the most acclaim. Three of them—the BeoCord VX5000 video recorder, the BeoVox Cona subwoofer, and the BeoLab 6000 speakers—are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and his audio/video systems grace luxury hotel rooms the world over. Born in Britain in 1939 and made a knight of the Danish Order of the Dannebrog in 2003, he's prolific as ever: Among his products debuting at B&O this year are a 40-inch LCD television ($13,250), loudspeakers ($9,900), a 50-inch plasma TV ($21,900), a cell phone called Serene ($1,275), and a sound system built for the Audi A8 ($7,000). As one might imagine, Lewis has a few thoughts on the state of modern design.

"I seek inspiration in everyday life. When I was designing the serene cell phone I was inspired by the shape of Asian roofs and water buckets. I generally like the bauhaus style and I'm excited by the auto industry. You often see new mechanisms and materials in cars before they appear anywhere else."

"Too many things are going on at the same time in today's products. It confuses people. Designers jump on the gadget bandwagon just to have the latest gimmicks. Too few are concerned with quality and things that make a difference. At Bang & Olufsen we instead tend to simplify—and I believe we create things that make sense in real people's lives.

"Product life cycles are becoming shorter and buyers are growing more fickle. You might change your mobile phone two or three times a year just to own the newest model. This trend makes what I do more difficult, but perhaps also more interesting."

"Design is a universal language—Because it is emotional And it makes you react. You may like what you see; you may dislike it. But it should never leave you indifferent.