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Teenage Engineering is a Swedish consumer electronics company and manufacturer founded in 2005 by Jesper Kouthoofd, David Eriksson, Jens Rudberg and David Möllerstedt and based in Stockholm. Its products include electronics and synthesizers, with its core product being the OP-1, as well as instant cameras.
Their products have been well received for their aesthetic value and functionality.
Teenage Engineering was founded in 2005 by Jesper Kouthoofd, Jens Rudberg, David Eriksson and later joined by David Möllerstedt, who previously headed the audio department at EA DICE. Their first product, the OP-1, was introduced at the NAMM Show in 2010. Shortly after release, Teenage Engineering produced several "accessories", which could be used to manipulate the unit's input knobs.
Following the success of the OP-1, the company began working with the Stig Carlsson Foundation to develop the OD-11 speaker, inspired by a speaker of the same name manufactured by Sonab and designed by Swedish designer Stig Carlsson in 1974. It was well received for its minimalist design, a faithful reproduction of the original, and for its sound quality. Despite two early appearances at the Consumer Electronics Show and an original release date of Summer 2013, it was not released until 2014. Teenage Engineering aimed to maintain Carlsson's goal of designing a speaker for use in a "regular home", rather than one designed to be used in an unrealistically ideal, noiseless environment.
In 2013, the company collaborated with the Swedish clothing company Cheap Monday after ordering new work uniforms from them; Kouthoofd had previously collaborated with creative director, Ann-Sofie Back. The companies jointly announced the Pocket Operator (PO-10) synthesizer series in January 2015. The series includes three models: PO-12 rhythm, a drum machine; PO-14 sub, a bass synthesizer; and PO-16 factory, a lead synthesizer. Each model doubles as a 16-step sequencer. According to CEO Jesper Kouthoofd, Teenage Engineering sought to design synthesizers that would retail for US$49; however, each PO actually retails for US$59. The POs target musicians seeking a less expensive alternative to the OP-1, which currently retails for US$1,299. The series uses a minimalist design, evoking pocket calculators and, according to Kouthoofd, Nintendo's Game & Watch games. Sonically, they emulate vintage synthesizers, in response to the contemporary surge in the popularity of retro style electronic music gear. The synthesizers debuted at the 2015 NAMM Show. The Pocket Operators were a success at NAMM, and sales were estimated by third parties to be as high as 40,000 units, which delayed shipments by up to three months.
The PO-20 series of the Pocket Operators were introduced at the 2016 NAMM show. The PO-20 synthesizers have some additional effects and functionality that were not present in the original PO-10 series, but maintain the US$59 price point. The PO-30 series further elaborates upon the original Pocket operators by adding a drum synthesizer made in collaboration with MicroTonic, a sampler, and a voice synthesizer. These were released starting in late 2017 at a slightly increased price from previous series. PO-30 devices feature a microphone for use in recording audio samples and for transferring data.
In 2018, Teenage Engineering announced a new line of audio equipment products, Frekvens, in collaboration with IKEA. The modular system takes visual cues from Bauhaus design. Founder Kouthoofd had previously collaborated with IKEA on Knäppa, a camera made of cardboard.
On May 22, 2019, Panic announced Playdate, a new handheld video game console designed in collaboration with Teenage Engineering. The device features a mechanical crank which is specifically credited to Teenage Engineering.
Awards and accolades
- The OP-1 synthesizer won one of ten of Sweden's Design S Awards in 2012. The award committee described the OP-1 as "A technological product which through a clever colour scheme and fantastic graphics is intuitive, easily accessible and incredibly inviting. Music and machine in one".
- In 2014, the OP-1 was awarded second prize in Georgia Tech's Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition.
- In 2017, the Pocket Operator series was awarded a Good Design Award by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion. The Institute noted that while the functions of the devices were not immediately clear, the format "inspires a desire to press the buttons".
Musicians who use Teenage Engineering products include Kevin Parker, frontman of Tame Impala, NOCASINO, Beck, Bon Iver, Depeche Mode, Kings Kaleidoscope, Low, Miike Snow, Drew Shirley of Switchfoot, Housemeister, Damian Kulash of OK Go, Chicago producer Monte Booker, Swedish House Mafia and Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES.
- OP-1 (2011)
- oplab (2012)
- OD-11 (2014; with Stig Carlsson Foundation)
- Pocket Operators (with Cheap Monday)
- 10-series (2015)
- 20-series (2016)
- 30-series (2018)
- Impossible I-1 (2016; instant camera designed in collaboration with Impossible Project)
- Frekvens (2019; designed for IKEA)
- OP-Z (2018)
- H, R (2017; with Raven/Baidu)
- Playdate (2019; with Panic Inc.)
- Byrne, Ciara (3 September 2013). "More Than An Office, Teenage Engineering's Minimalist Garage Is A Tinkerer's Paradise". Labs. Fast Company. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- Wolbe, Trent (14 January 2011). "Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer now available for pre-order, we tour its shiny new features (video)". Engadget. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- Ingraham, Nathan (28 August 2012). "Teenage Engineering's new OP-1 gear: it's time to crank, bend, and break the rules". The Verge. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- Gardiner, Bryan (21 July 2014). "Review: Teenage Engineering OD-11". Wired. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- "Carlsson Story". Teenage Engineering. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- Sethi, Rounik (20 January 2015). "Teenage Engineering and Cheap Monday Launch new Micro Synths". AskAudio. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- "Here They Come: The Pocket Operators!". Cheap Monday. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- Ingraham, Nathan (22 January 2015). "Teenage Engineering designed a set of incredible pocket synthesizers that cost $59 each". The Verge. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- Raymer, Miles (23 February 2015). "Teenage Engineering's Pocket Operators put real synths in the palm of your hand". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- "Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator Availability Update". Sonic State. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- Zampollo, Matthew (9 February 2016). "Cheap Monday e Teenage Engineering lancia la nuova serie di micro-synth Pocket Operators". Rolling Stone (in Italian). Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Diaz, Ann-Christine (19 April 2018). "Ikea Enters the World of Music with Cult Electronics Firm Teenage Engineering". AdAge. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Webster, Andrew (2019-05-22). "Playdate is an adorable handheld with games from the creators of Qwop, Katamari, and more". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
- "Winners". Design S. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- "2014 Competition". Georgia Institute of Technology. 2015. Archived from the original on 14 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- "pocket operator [teenage engineering]". October 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- ""Justin Vernon shares the stories behind Bon Iver's new album '22, A Million'"".
- Kulash, Damian; Carnick, Anna (26 August 2013). "Dream Machine". L'ArcoBaleno. Archived from the original on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- ""China's Baidu just announced the strangest smart speakers"".