Franco Albini’s Radio in Cristallo Enters the Modern Era

Newly reissued by Cassina in a limited-edition run, the glass-clad radio represents the late Italian architect’s career-long pursuit of the essentials.

When Franco Albini received a traditional wooden-cased radio as a wedding present in 1938, the Italian architect couldn’t shake the notion that its cumbersome build could be streamlined, modernized, and elevated to his exacting standards of stripped-down beauty. He decided to disassemble and reconstruct it completely with only essential electric components visible to capture its simplicity and “lightness”—a hallmark of his Neo-Rationalist design approach. The ensuing radio, which Albini unveiled at the 1940 edition of Wohnbedarf’s modern furniture competition in Zurich, became a prototype in his home but exists as somewhat of an overlooked achievement in his career.

More than 80 years later, Cassina is turning the volume up on Albini’s achievement with a long-awaited reissue. Sporting identical proportions as the original, Radio in Cristallo mimics Albini’s reassembled object but with electrical components encased in a suspended matte black monolith ensconced between a supporting structure of extra-clear square glass sheets. “The radio represents the search for the essence of a product and pursuing lightness for its content as an aesthetic value,” says Franco’s son, Marco. “My father used to say ‘air and light are construction materials’ and this is perfectly represented in these objects.” It also comes in a limited-edition run of five with extra features like a hand-welded circuit board.

Radio in Cristallo is equipped with FM radio and Bluetooth pairing functions that can be easily navigated via four stainless knobs affixed to the front glass plate. Though the audio quality feels state-of-the-art, we recommend pairing it with an optional subwoofer that transmits low frequencies to craft an even more immersive sound experience. 

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