Beauty in Sound: Bang and Olufsen Opens High End Store for Wealthy

Danish flagship launches with champagne in richest zip code

Space age design combined with transcendent clarity

Design to mollify wives and fit sky high apartments

No doubt you, a discriminating high end consumer, already miss Rizzoli, as we do. That marble and polished wood bookstore on 57th Street just East of Fifth temporarily closed last week, because its brownstone will now be replaced by yet another nondescript steel and glass tower with, we presume, a Duane Reade on its ground floor.

Keeping up the standard: an Aston Martin parked outside struck a suitable note as it prepared to show off its BandO player.

But since we are talking of vanishing traditional luxury stores for the aesthetically discriminating, how about a new one reborn from that otherwise bygone era of music when you could actually see and touch high end audiophile equipment (aaah yes…turntables! cartridges! shelves of LPs! giant woofers! six foot tall Magnepan speakers! divorce!)?

Denmark’s storied Bang and Olufsen is not only still around with its space age styling and exquisitely clear sound but the company’s presidents (US and Copenhagen) cut the red ribbon last night on a new US flagship on 58th Street, suitably located just across from another toystore, FAOSchwarz. Parked outside was a shiny maroon Aston Martin fitted with with a Bang and Olufsen sound system.

Monica Gartner occupies virtual reality overlooking an assortment of small BandO phones and radios as the press waits for the inaugural speeches

Slim blonde Monica Gartner head of PR welcomed the packed press preview crowd as they scoffed their tiny turkeyburgers and chocolate strawberries with champagne amid internet age designs both tiny (earbuds, earphones, ultra small speakers) and vast, but somehow still fairly discreet (sculptural speakers, inch thick black wall screen TVs, wirefree woofer on floor). She introduced tall, bronze, dynamic Kathy Thornton-Bias, newly the US president poached from running MOMA’s retail side.

Cutting the ribbon to launch a new era of living space sound in the richest zip code in the country

US president Kathy Thornton-Bias chatted to the press after cutting the ribbon to open her new "baby"

Kathy said the new store felt like her new baby and was designed so that passers by would be helplessly intrigued by the sight of the minimalist sonic hardware and come in to hear and touch it. She introduced Tue Mantoni, BandO’s equally ectomorphic CEO who had flown over specially from Copenhagen, who said that once customers touched and heard his sonic artwork they were sold.

Tue Mantoni flew over from Denmark especially for the occasion, facing the press with no sign of jet lag

The tall Dane stepped aside for a speaker showoff which met with spontaneous applause when the final pair of the largest reproducers magically emerged like spiky golden and silver servants of sound from dumb waiter doors in the black side wall and genuinely impressed the crowd with their extraordinary clarity.

Kevan Pickens of The Golfer and Stephen Robson of Kuberan Capital were among the distinguished guests

Kevan Pickens of The Golfer and Stephen Robson of Kuberan Capital were among the distinguished guests

Scott Foreman a salesman said that a typical audio set up might cost around $25,000, which certainly fits in with current economic trends whereby the middle class is joining the lower classes in penury leaving the rich as the only consumers available to support economic expansion.

Headphones to allow access to the same sound quality at a more modest fee were $400.

Circles and planes are emphasized as design elements by BandO's Scandinavian designers and give their minimalistic equipment an enduring space age look

Circles and planes are emphasized as design elements by BandO’s Scandinavian designers and give their minimalistic equipment an enduring space age look

Perhaps some might say that the design of their bigger loudspeakers remains a little too, well, loud in this day and age when everything electronic is tending toward the miniature and invisible. But the company’s chief contribution remains as always imposing sufficient design quality on their products that even the largest seem elegantly pleasing and unobtrusive to the eye, and that design genius is also being well applied to the smaller products such as headphones.

See more: 52 photos at Photocalendar Apr 16 Wed Bang and Olufsen Flagship Sails

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