Dezeen Magazine

+YvesBehar Mobile Phone by Yves Behar for Æsir

AE+Y Mobile Phone by Yves Behar for Æsir

San Francisco designer Yves Behar has designed the inaugural product from new Danish mobile phone brand Æsir.

+YvesBehar Mobile Phone by Yves Behar for Æsir

The design reacts against the trend for smart phones and features staggered square buttons.

+YvesBehar Mobile Phone by Yves Behar for Æsir

Called AE+Y, the design is the first in Æsir's a series of collaborations with selected designers.

+YvesBehar Mobile Phone by Yves Behar for Æsir

The Copenhagen-based brand was founded by Thomas Møller Jensen with Jens Martin Skibsted and Mathias Rajani.

The AE+Y phone comes in gold or stainless steel and costs more than €7000.

Here are some more details from Æsir:

The AE+Y Mobile Phone by Æsir and Yves Béhar

Danish Company Takes Mobile Phone Design to the Next Level

Æsir, a new Copenhagen-based, design-focused mobile phone company is challenging some of the world’s leading designers to bring fresh thought to mobile phone design. Its inaugural phone, the AE+Y, created by Yves Béhar, is launching in Spring 2011 followed by ongoing collaborations with a spectrum of visionary designers that will see further Æsir editions introduced.

Danish entrepreneur, Thomas Møller Jensen, founded Æsir in 2007 after reading a newspaper article which questioned why no one had succeeded in bringing strong industrial design to the mobile handset market. Armed with an appreciation for design, an interest in technology and an entrepreneurial spirit, Jensen set out to address the void.

The resulting company, Æsir Copenhagen, tasks individually selected designers to rethink mobile phone design. Æsir then assembles a bespoke team of technicians, engineers, craftsmen and material specialists to bring each design to life, in some cases utilising techniques which have not before been applied to the manufacture of mobile phones.

The word, Æsir, a Nordic term, describes the collective group of principle gods of Norse mythology, each with their individual strengths and characteristics. In much the same way, Æsir the company has been established by a group of Danish design enthusiasts, who assemble a diverse team of experts that possess the specialised skills that are required to build each Æsir edition.

“Æsir asks the designer to design the mobile phone they want to see in the marketplace and then finds the most specialised experts around the world who share our values and appreciate our curated approach to work with us. We have created a new visual, audio and tactile world for consumers. It’s been hard work, but very rewarding,” says Thomas Møller Jensen.

Multi-award-winning industrial designer Yves Béhar is the first designer to collaborate with Æsir and has created the AE+Y phone. Yves is principal and founder of fuseproject, the San Francisco and New York-based integrated design agency, which for over 10 years has become world-renowned for pushing the boundaries of technology and design, and its game-changing projects in areas as diverse as technology, furniture, sports, lifestyle and fashion. This is the first mobile phone Yves has designed.

Explaining the AE+Y, Yves says: “With the Æsir phone, I wanted to show an alternative to the sea of smartphones and their deluge of features. In an age when the industry seems to think that phones aren’t for speaking anymore, I wanted to focus on the idea of voice, clarity and simplicity.”

Yves adds: “The central tenet behind the AE+Y is to literally ‘craft’ the visual details, craft the functional tactility, and craft the user interface. This level of resolution for every touch point was achieved using a European-centric approach to manufacturing, assembly and design, partnering with the best makers in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. The AE+Y champions the idea of craftsmanship in an age that’s obsessed with more and making last year’s products obsolete. Instead, we propose better and long-lasting as our starting criteria.” The AE+Y goes on sale in Spring 2011. It will be made in a limited volume and will cost upwards of 7000 Euros.

Jensen says of the design of the AE+Y: “We selected Yves based on his understanding of technology, his humanistic approach and his emphasis on storytelling through design. The +YvesBéhar reflects the harmony Yves strikes between a focus on the user experience and application of high standards of craftsmanship. Yves has driven us to create something beautifully new.”

And the AE+Y is indeed new and beautiful. The metal work, in gold or stainless steel, has been made by French and Swiss specialists who have worked on complex components for some of the world’s most sought-after luxury watches. Their unrivalled expertise in making micro-tools combined with a significant amount of hand assembly was essential in delivering the ultra-high level of precision required for all the metal keys to line up perfectly.

Similarly, the sapphire crystal screen, with its patented ultra- resilient coating has been developed to produce a display with the highest clarity even in direct sunlight. The Dutch-made ceramic casing has been specially created for the AE+Y to deliver a highly durable, scratch-resistant, high-gloss finish. The seamless interface between the sapphire crystal screen and the ceramic casing is the first of its kind and again leverages and innovates techniques used in the Swiss watchmaking industry. Each handset will be assembled and finished in France.

The sound chamber within the AE+Y phone has been specially engineered for superior voice and acoustic performance with authenticity and crisp clarity. With ringtones specially commissioned by the ‘master of the upright bass’, Danish- Vietnamese musician Chris Minh Doky, the AE+Y sound delivers an entirely new experience.

Almost from the outset, Æsir has worked closely with Keep, a London-based brand development and marketing agency that works with companies in the worlds of art, design and luxury. Æsir has also worked with London-based Tom Hingston Studio, which has developed a custom font and range of bespoke icons which will be used across the whole Æsir brand.

The AE+Y sets the standard for future Æsir editions, which will see the company partnering with additional thought-provoking designers to further explore mobile phone design and manufacturing techniques.

Thomas Møller Jensen concludes, “The challenge was to create something that is new within the industry; something that will be used and enjoyed by its owners for years to come and something that causes people to think differently about their phones and phone design. The AE+Y meets that challenge and we are all extremely pleased with the result.”

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