Bang & Olufsen

Form 2i Stereo Headphones

Bang & Olufsen updated the Form 2 headphones once again in 2014 with an in-line microphone and 3 button remote so that they can be used together with any smart phone or tablet PC. Plus new colors were introduced as well as a new name “Form 2i”, referring to the upgrade making them “interactive”.

Production year
1985
Years in prodution
1985 - 2018
Awards
Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones accepted to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, permanent design collection.
Longest living headphones in the world.
“Whether you’re cruising through the city on your bike – or chilling in the park listening to the latest tunes, Form 2i is a great companion.”
archiproducts.com
The story of how Bang & Olufsen’s Form 2 headphones were born

In the world of consumer electronics, products come and go as the wind blows. Some last six months on the market, others can last a few years, but in general it is very seldom that a Hi-Fi accessory can stand the test of time and still be on the market after 25 years.

By Steve McGugan

Bang & Olufsen’s Form 2 headphones had their 25th birthday in 2010. Here is the story of how a pair of simple headphones, have lived a long and quite life.

From 1978 to 1981 I attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena California, USA to study industrial design. During this period, I had learned about a company in Denmark that was producing some of the most fantastically designed Hi-Fi equipment on the market. At first sight I had fallen in love with their products and the company. The first stereo I ever bought, was of course a Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 1900.

Near the end of my education at Art Center, I decided that I wanted to work as industrial designer somewhere in Europe. Therefore, I thought what better place to start my design career than to work for Bang & Olufsen. So, I wrote to them and said, “hey I would like to work for you as an in-house designer”. After a couple of interviews and talks back and forth, I got the job.

In 1982 I was getting ready to travel to Denmark to start my career as product designer for Bang & Olufsen. In preparing for my trip, I decided to purchase a Sony Walkman to take with me as I always enjoyed listing to music and found this new product idea, which Sony had launched in 1979, to be a fantastic way to enjoy music whenever and wherever. This little product would turn out to have a big influence on some of my future ideas for Hi-Fi design.

In the year 2010 Bang & Olufsen celebrated Form 2’s 25th anniversary by launching the headphones in 5 new colors and with Bang & Olufsen’s new company logo printed on the headphones.

The first year at Bang & Olufsen was full of new learning experiences as well as exploring some of the ideas that I had floating around in my head. Sometime in 1983, I had the idea that B&O needed a more compact and lightweight headphone in their product range. I thought that this type of headphone would be ideal to use together with B&O’s existing Hi-Fi products as well as together with a Sony Walkman. At the time the headphones that came with the Walkman where not at a high standard of design. With a Bang & Olufsen designed headphone the Walkman consumers could enjoy good sound together with a nicer looking design. I started to sketch some ideas and created some 3D cardboard models. After a while I chose a design and presented it to my boss, Jens Bang. He looked at the model and said, “this looks really nice, but we have Form 1 headphones which is our top of the line model. We don’t need a cheaper headphone in our product line”. I though “well OK, it was just an idea” and I put the model up on a shelf in my office. One year later Jens Bang comes into my office and says, “I remember that you had made a design proposal for a lightweight headphone some time ago, do you still have the model”.

I looked around on my shelf and found it still lying there. I dusted it off and handed it to him. Jens looked at it and said, “it still looks good, we’ll make it”.

The next step was to get the design engineered and ready for tooling. A mechanical engineer working at B&O at the time by the name of Bent Gørbel was assigned to create the final mechanical construction.

In 1985 Form 2 headphones hit the market. In 1992 the headphones where accepted to the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent design collection. At one point a Chinese company had copied the headphones and were selling them under another brand. B&O’s legal department quickly put a stop to this. In the late 90’s B&O was considering phasing out Form 2, but Apple suggested that they continue producing them because they were ideal for their iPod, which had become a huge success.

In the year 2014 Bang & Olufsen launches the headphones with an in-line microphone and 3 buttons remote
In the year 2014 Bang & Olufsen launches the headphones with an in-line microphone and 3 buttons remote
In the year 2014 Bang & Olufsen launches the headphones with an in-line microphone and 3 buttons remote
In the year 2014 (the headphones are still on the market) Bang & Olufsen launches the headphones with an in-line microphone and 3 buttons remote so that they can be used together with any smart phone or tablet PC. Plus, new colors where again launched and the product received a new name “Form 2i”, referring to the upgrade making them “interactive”. Another event that brought more attention to the Form 2i headphones this year was a collaboration between B&O Play and Pepsi. Together with 3 of the hottest street artists in the world, B&O let them decorate the Form 2i headphones with their unique style of street art combining the sport of football, the inspiration of art and the creativity of fashion to create the LIVE FOR NOW limited-edition series.
“I thought that this type of headphone would be ideal to use together with B&O’s existing Hi-Fi products as well as together with a Sony Walkman.”
Steve McGugan
In 2018 I heard that B&O would stop the production of the headphones, so I took some time to draw them in my 3D CAD system so that they could be preserved and shared with others.
In 2018 I heard that B&O would stop the production of the headphones, so I took some time to draw them in my 3D CAD system so that they could be preserved and shared with others.
In 2018 I heard that B&O would stop the production of the headphones, so I took some time to draw them in my 3D CAD system so that they could be preserved and shared with others.

In 2018 I heard that B&O would stop the production of the headphones, so I took some time to draw them in my 3D CAD system so that they could be preserved and shared with others. I also made contact with Bent Gørbel and we had a long and interesting chat about the old days, the new days and about all the things we have been doing since we worked together on the Form 2 headphones for over 33 years ago.

And as predicted Bang & Olufsen finally stop the production of the Form 2 headphones (in 2018) after being on the market for 33 years.

When seeing all the newfangled electronic products and accessories that have come and gone over the years, it has shown me that having the right idea and keeping things simple is a good formula when designing a new product. I find it amazing that these little headphones continued to appeal to consumers thru all these years, delivering good sound quality with a stylish and classic design. First for the Sony Walkman generation then for the iPod generation and in the end for the Smartphone generation. I am very grateful that Jens Bang and Bang & Olufsen had changed their minds and saw the potential of introducing a new headphone into their product assortment.

This is absolutely one of my all-time best designs, which I am very proud of, and I’m thankful to all the consumers that bought this beautiful classic.