Retro Chic – Braun SK 4
What’s the story?
Between 1919 and 1933, that brief period when Germany wasn’t being ruled by a vicious monarch or a monstrous fascist, there existed a school of art, craft and design known as the Bauhaus. The people who studied and taught there followed the idea that buildings and machines should have a simple, clean design that is easy to use – objective, functional, but human. After WWII, the Bauhaus aesthetic made its way across the world in products such as this calm, white, minimalistic record player/radio, and in doing so influenced a new generation of designers and products – among them the Bauhaus movement’s most famous fan, Steve Jobs. Without the SK 4, there may have been no iPod.
Why should I want one?
As it comes from the pre-transistor era, the SK 4’s internal valve amp will, if well maintained, produce a warm, bright sound and its 4W output is enough to fill a room. One of the great milestones of gadget design, the SK 4 was nicknamed ‘Snow White’s coffin’ (people were shocked by its transparent lid), but the less-is-more touch of designer Dieter Rams can now be seen in almost every gadget.
What to look for
The SK 4 is not easy to come by, and not cheap. It may be better to find one in non-working condition and ask a nice old man in a phonographic shop to fix it for you.