The Brionvega Totem rr231 stereo system transforms from a minimalist work of art into a functional audio machine

Even audiophiles might not listen to music all day, so this modern take on a 70s sound system turns into a minimalist decor item when not in use.

As with almost everything in design, fashion and culture in general, there has been a resurgence in interest and sales of vinyl records. These naturally required the production of equipment capable of playing these old school media and even recreating the small flaws that made them unique. Many modern turntables, however, are quite basic and also try to recreate the look of their predecessors a little too faithfully. One company, however, took inspiration from a design that was already way ahead of its time when it came out decades ago, reviving a stereo system that combines form and function in a way really unique.

Designer: Mario Bellini (via Brionvega)

When the famous Italian designer Mario Bellini created the original Totem rr231 in 1971, it was already thinking outside the box, literally and figuratively. Unlike turntable designs of this period, Bellini included speakers to create a fully integrated and independent audio system. But rather than just creating a set of separate pieces, the designer created a unique piece that embraced minimalism ahead of current design trends.

In its “dormant” state, the rr231 Totem deceptively resembles a simple white cube with appearances running across its width and down the middle. Those seams, however, give way to two speakers, each with a two-and-a-half-way system, which sway like the wings of a futuristic machine. These speakers can actually be separated from the main body and positioned in other parts of the room to fill it with your favorite tunes.

The rest of the box houses the ProJect turntable and a set of buttons and dials that match the minimalist aesthetic of the Totem rr231. Unlike the original, this modern version naturally incorporates current audio technologies, including Bluetooth connection for streaming from mobile devices. In more ways than one, Brionvega’s recreation blends past and present in a deceptively simple design.

Admittedly, the Brionvega Totem rr231 requires a little more physical labor to use, especially if you keep it closed in its box form. Of course, this has the advantage of having a minimalist piece of art in the room at no additional cost, but this user participation in opening the box also creates a kind of “ritual” that makes the act of listening to music more personal and, in a way, more human.