To coincide with the 2012 London Olympics, the V&A Museum’s major Spring exhibition will showcase the best of British design and creative talent. ‘British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age’, will highlight significant moments in the history of British Design. Drawing on the V&A’s unrivalled collections, the exhibition will document the best in British design and innovation from last 60 years.
Included in this prestigious event is the Lecson Audio system created by the co-founders of Meridian Audio, Britain’s leading manufacturer of high-end audio and visual entertainment systems.
The Lecson Audio system was created in 1974, three years before Allen Boothroyd and Bob Stuart founded Meridian Audio. Still led by the two founders, the company has always been at the cutting edge of audio technology and design and continues to retain the philosophy that design should not only incorporate aesthetics but functionality too. To this end, beyond creating extraordinary sound, Meridian products have set new standards for elegant and iconic design.
Commenting on the exhibition Allen Boothroyd said:
“We are very proud that one of our earliest and most influential products has been selected to be part of this prestigious exhibition. For the Lecson to be shown at the V&A alongside products from other iconic British brands such as Jaguar, Alexander McQueen and Concorde is a privilege. This exhibition represents the rich heritage and the finest craftsmanship of British manufacturing for which this country has become renowned and towards which we are very honoured to have contributed since we started out 40 years ago.”
One of the most innovative products of the 1970s in any field, the Lecson reinvented the relationship between design and function. Before its release, hi-fi equipment was housed functionally. Regular grey boxes with knobs represented the height of artistic endeavour and the aesthetic of hi-fi products remained unchanged for many years, that is, until the Lecson. The Lecson did away with the monochrome, boxes and knobs. The power amp was housed not in a dull cube of metal, but in a ribbed cylinder which was not only striking to look at but designed to dissipate the necessary heat. The control unit was not simply a block of buttons but used a spectrum of coloured keyboard-like sliders making it both fantastically bold and incredibly intuitive. The Lecson had made the leap from something that was not merely acceptable as a piece of equipment, but also desirable as an objet d’art. Selected in 1976 for the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) permanent collection, it is this iconic piece for which Bob Stuart and Allen Boothroyd won the first of three British Design Council Awards in 1974, 1982 and 1988. Now sought after by collectors, it is thought that approximately 50 Lecson systems are still in existence and at auction they fetch over £1,000.00
Since the release of the Lecson, Bob and Allen’s work has continued to re-define the consumer electronics industry. Working from Meridian’s headquarters in Cambridgeshire, UK, they have retained their position at the forefront of the high-end consumer technology sector. In total, Meridian Audio has been honoured with over 165 awards from around the globe, in addition to the three coveted British Design Council Awards for Outstanding British Products which Bob and Allen have received for their distinguished designs.
Pictures depict the Meridian Audio Lecson up top and the Meridian 565 Digital to Analogue converter inset