It’s an age-old dilemma: Is beautiful design worth the cost?
Aesir Copenhagen, a Danish luxury mobile phone manufacturer, is betting it is. They’re about to release a $10,000 phone, innovative in both its craftsmanship and design. The touchscreen is separated from the face on the back of the phone, with a receiver on the front, harking back to landline days (remember those?).
And it is luxurious. Aesir’s exquisitely crafted phones are made with state-of-the-art materials: stainless steel, sapphire-crystal, gold. Functionality-wise, it’s current conception would run on Android.
The Scandinavian design firm KiBiSi collaborated with Aesir to create the device, only the second product Aesir’s released. KiBiSi’s work is featured in New York’s MoMA, Paris’ Centre National d’Arts Plastique and SFMoMA. That gallery mindset drives Thomas Møller Jensen, Aesir’s founder, who told Fast Company he leaves the phone’s look and functionality solely to the designer:
“We would be responsible for making sure whatever came into the gallery was interesting and had something on its mind, but that’s it. How it looked, and so on, that was not our baby. For that, we would find visionary designers, and that brings in the exclusivity…if you give a designer a very free hand, then you skip some of the moderation or the compromise that you would typically get when you have a marketing department who have their say, the sales department who have their say, production people who have their say.”
If you can afford a $10,000 phone, you probably can afford to upgrade it every 18 months. But that’s not what the Aesir’s phone is for. Says Møller Jensen: “It’s good design, it’s long-lasting, it will continue to be of joy to the user over a long period of time. You won’t throw it away.”
Sustainability and beautiful craftsmanship aside, what sets the KiBiSi handset apart from other high-end phones is its intelligent design. It just makes sense to have a cradled handset that fits to your head and a touchscreen that your cheek steers clear of.
Møller Jensen doesn’t call it art; rather, it’s a really, really good product that does what it’s ultimately meant to do: make phone calls. Like a piece of art, though, most of the market can’t afford it. But it’s nice to look at.