Form 2i: the longest-manufactured headphones on the market
In 1985 the Form 2 headphone was introduced to the world: an ultra-light, iconic-shaped on-ear device with an impressive stereo sound. Now, more than 30 years after Steve McGugan sketched his first product ideas it’s still on the market, as popular as ever it was.
In 1982, Steve McGugan, a 23-year-old industrial designer, travelled to the rugged west coast of Denmark to start working for Bang & Olufsen after studying at the Art Center College and Design in Pasadena, California. The story goes that, preparing for the trip to Struer, McGugan bought a Sony Walkman which actually helped his ideas for the birth of Bang & Olufsen’s longest-selling headphones.
A year into his new job, he came up with the idea that Bang & Olufsen needed more compact and lightweight headphones. Headphones which could work with the then product line-up – but also something that would complement the new Walkman generation. Something chic… something different, along Bang & Olufsen’s way of thinking…
McGugan started sketching out his ideas and produced a few 3D cardboard models. He picked out the one he liked the most and took it to his boss at that time: Jens Bang.
His boss liked it, but since the company was already manufacturing another, more expensive set of headphones: Form 1, the concept was rejected.
The cardboard models were thus stowed away, and life with the Danish company continued.
However, one year later, Jens Bang came to Steve McGugan’s office and said to him “I remember that you made a design proposal for a lightweight headphone some time ago. Do you still have the model?”
The model was still there, lying within the dust inside an old cupboard.
So, in 1985 Form 2 was introduced to the world: an ultra-light, iconic-shaped on-ear headphone with impressive stereo sound. Now, more than 30 years after Steve McGugan proposed his original ideas, Form 2 is still on the market – as popular as it ever was.
In a time where technology is short-lived – and products are changed every other year - the longevity of Form 2 is quite surprising. Here’s a product that has truly proved itself timeless – and with the updates presented by Bang & Olufsen recently, new breath & new life has been given to Form 2, or Form 2i as it is now called (the July 2014 range of Form 2i colours are as shown above).
An in-line microphone and 3-button remote has been added to the original design so that the headphones can be used to take and make phone calls right from the cord. The comfort design has been improved too, so Form 2i can be worn for extended periods of time.
The word ‘icon’ is used ever so often – but in the case of Form 2 it’s truly warranted. It’s also classed now as an ‘art piece’ as in 1992 it was included within the Permanent Collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
“I’m truly honoured that Form 2 has been kept alive all these years and that there’s been constant demand for the product” states Steve McGugan.
“This is absolutely one of my all-time best designs – and I’m thankful that people still find Form 2 desirable”.
Read more of how Steve McGugan’s iconic Form 2 headphones were born and the history surrounding them…