Soft Electronics reveals the world of old consumer tech

“Soft Electronics”: this polychromatic old consumer technology will surprise you

In the new book, ancient electronics and obsolete appliances are explored in all their magnificent, colorful and bizarre glory, Soft electronicsfrom Dutch designer Jaro Gilens

Dutch designer Jaro Gilens has an important side business as a collector of obsolete electronics. Gilens was particularly fascinated by the early days of the portable video games featured in the book Gestalten, Electronic plastic. His latest book Soft electronicsrichly illustrated his collection of home appliances from the heyday of the era of labor savings.

In the 1960s, new technologies emerged and niches for new products opened up – witnessing the growth of kitchen gadgets, electric razors and other hair and beauty products, as well as the multitude of wreaths, coffee makers and electric carving knives that we were. sure will make our lives easier and more enjoyable.

Ancient electronics with enduring intrigue

Joghurtgerät (yogurt maker), AEG, 1977

The products presented at the exhibition come from some of the biggest names in consumer electronics, including Braun, Moulinex, AEG, Krups and others. These devices, which were manufactured from the 1960s to the 1980s, celebrate their functionality but use bold shapes and colors.

According to Gilens, they are also well built and durable – most of these products still work exactly as intended. They offer an answer to the culture of discarding that has followed, and show that longevity always prevails over form and fashion when it comes to social and economic responsibility.

Hairdryer Braun, model HLD 550, 1976

If you are of age, these pages will be a lot of familiar from childhood subjects, and the inclusion of packaging and advertising for a specific period ensures that the book will be well enjoyed by the retro crowd. But it’s also a story of gender design and how softer shapes and brighter colors have often been reserved for items designed for women, such as hair dryers (and, needless to say, lots of kitchen utensils).

Companies like Braun were happy to abandon their sober, steely modernism when it came to hair care, although the quality of industrial design and execution was still extremely high. In contrast, “male” products, such as popcorn machines, have been designed to look like high-end audio-visual equipment, presumably not to scare away men.

Braun Man-Styler, model HLD 51, 1972

Colors and shapes come and go with the weather, but if there’s anything to be learned from this chronicle of the impressive collection, it’s that endurance and quality are the best design of all. §

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