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⟨ I Know I'll Often Stop and Think About Them ⟩

22-What should our future be like?

BRAUN C301 CASSETTE DECK

December 2020

當我把一盒1985年Prince的《Around the World in a Day》錄音帶放進Braun在1979年推出的C301卡式錄音機時,可以感到房間倏地換成了80年代初的空氣,那是我第一盒放進這台機的錄音帶,那種真實而溫暖的聲音質感很快讓我忍不住流淚,不料同時一股白煙突然在錄音帶匣冒起不止,我馬上把電源關掉退到房間角落,濃煙持續不散,把我嚇得沒了半條命。畢竟這台錄音機在世上壞一台便少一台了。

As I inserted the cassette tape of Prince’s “Around the World in a Day” in the 1979 Braun C301, the room vibed the 80’s. It was the first tape I played with the stereo cassette deck; its genuine, heartwarming texture put a tear in my eye. A thin, twisting and curling column of smoke emitted from the back of the deck. Terrified of possibly destroying a near extinct cassette deck, I shut off the power and retreated to the corner, the smoke still billowing.

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Braun在1980年開始發展出一套非常完整的Atelier音響系統,包括黑膠唱盤、CD機、卡式錄音機、擴音機等,把它們全部組合起來的話,會整齊有序到讓人驚嘆。C301卡式錄音機是更早期的型號,但與該系列可謂同出一轍。後來我把它送去維修,師傅說是其中一個老零件起火燒熔了,更換後總算可以運作。

In 1980, Braun launched a comprehensive Atelier system including turntable, CD player, cassette deck, and amplifier. C301 is an earlier model, but equally exceptional in sound. I took mine to maintenance and was told one of the parts had caught fire, but the damage wasn’t beyond repair.

想擁有Braun C301卡式錄音機首先是被它錄音帶匣外露的設計吸引,直白地說是完全沒有錄音帶匣,不用再隔著一層塑膠,我可以直接看到磁帶隨著捲軸轉動;而另一原因,便是Dieter Rams,這台錄音機是他以Braun首席設計師的身份主導開發的產品之一。

I was attracted to the C301’s front loading, bare-it-all cassette compartment, and how one could watch the cassette reel spin. Dieter Rams was another reason to fall in love with the C301, which was the first product Rams launched as Braun’s head of design.

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現在人們提起Dieter Rams,必把他說成是影響蘋果電腦設計的傳奇設計師,話雖如此,在有關他的紀錄片《Rams》裡可以看到他的工作室似乎連一台電腦也沒有,他更再三表示他對社會的憂慮——人們在街上走路時只顧盯著手機,而不再留意身邊的人,不再看清楚城市裡的一事一物。這些擔憂無疑正時時刻刻上演,慢慢地人的身心被操控著而不自覺。儘管現代科技產品的外貌和程式介面仰望著Dieter Rams定下的設計標準,但失控的資訊和過度操控的媒體並沒有讓我們「Less but better」。

Most people would think of Rams as the legendary designer who influenced Apple. In fact, as the documentary “Rams” reveals, Rams’ studio is devoid of computers – in line with his worries about society’s obsession with screen time and its declining ability to care for anything, or anyone, else. Whilst modern technological products and interfaces pay tribute to Rams’ principles of good design, the white noise of information overload and fake news continues to impede our ability to live his spirit: less but better.

Dieter Rams 至今仍然在使用他在Braun時期設計的音響系統,如果不是機件故障,相信是可以終生不需更換的產品,這證明了好設計的目的是針對無度消費。不只是設計,生活也應該來得簡樸實在。在眾人眼裡,Dieter Rams是一位有遠見的設計奇才,但他不以為然,他認為與其做設計不如先談制度改革,和停止視覺污染的景觀設計讓他更感興趣,而這些事情怎會不是我們每人都應該反思和關注的事情?

Rams himself is still using the hi-fi systems he pioneered at Braun. If it wasn’t for mechanical failure, they were consumer products built to last a lifetime – even in today’s throwaway society. More than a tenet of good design, “less but better” if a way of life. Though celebrated as a visionary genius, Rams maintains that system reform should come before design, championing product designs that minimise physical and visual pollution. These are humanist considerations that should spur our deeper reflections.

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跟其他經典的Braun 產品一樣,C301卡式錄音機的按扭擺放整齊,只保留最基本的功能,說明書不再有存在的理由。按下「Start」鍵,咔一聲,機械走動的感覺強烈從指頭回彈,看著錄音帶匣昏黃的燈光映照著磁帶一圈一圈地走,音樂的真實感從來不因年代和科技的變化而減退。

True to other classic Braun products, the C301 boasts simple, utilitarian buttons that render instruction manuals redundant. One pushes the “start” button and activates the humming engine of the machine. Watching as the cassette reel spins glowing circles, the materiality of music endures.

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