Champions of Design – Roberts Revival radio
Today the idea of a radio that does only radio is, arguably, an anachronism. Roberts was part of broadcasting when ‘wireless’ didn’t mean streaming audio via a PC. Nevertheless, the Roberts Revival is a good example of a particular kind of ‘vintage’ design; it’s progressive retro. Which is to say it might look as ‘home and hearth’ as a brown teapot, but under the skin it’s bang up to date. Trying to switch on an internet-linked model at a pal’s house this weekend, the minimal buttons proved too modern for me to figure out myself, and I had to ask for help. It might look old enough for a free bus pass, but I was the one left having a ‘senior moment’. Roberts still has a twinkle in the eye, and contemporary engineering inside.
Being progressive retro puts it in good design company, alongside the Aston Martin DBS, the Coke Classic aluminum bottle, Gucci by Gucci and suchlike. These are brands using nostalgia that also have an ‘of-the-moment’ quality or product offer. It means they should retain relevance long after the vintage fad has faded and the ‘Keep calm’ poster has been removed from the kitchen wall.
Roberts still looks stylish because its compact, simple form followed function. If it had really embraced the design fashions of the time it might have aged less successfully. Today there are plenty of funky modern alternatives around, but I suspect your PC will be obsolete or look old-fashioned far quicker than a Roberts.
Silas Amos, Creative Director, jkr