At 75, life continues to be a big turn-on

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At 75, life continues to be a big turn-on

"Engaged to be married to Henriette" is not something you would expect to see on an executive's resume, but it's there on the CV of Lars Myrup, president of Bang & Olufsen Japan.

The Danish audio electronics firm Bang & Olufsen, founded in 1925, is known for emphasizing the aesthetics of its products. Mr. Myrup joined the firm as a trainee at age 18. Now in his mid-30s, he's climbed a few rungs; he oversees the Japanese and Korean markets for the company.

Mr. Myrup, who arrived in Seoul last week for an exhibition of the firm's products, told the JoongAng Ilbo English edition that Bang & Olufsen wants to create the world's most luxurious and chic audio equipment. "We don't just sell technology, we add in emotions and feelings," he said.

The exhibition, "A Story of Excellence Since 1925," is on a world tour to mark the firm's 75th birthday. Containing about 50 of the company's historic products, Seoul is the show's third stop after runs in Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. The show continues through Sunday in Seoul's southern suburb of Seongnam.

Bang & Olufsen has always aimed to appeal to consumers with "mature and natural tastes," Mr. Myrup said, "as the tales of Hans Christian Andersen do." The strategy to serve that market segment prompted the firm recently to rearrange its marketing tactics in Japan and Korea. The Danish firm had used a well known Japanese company as its distributor in Japan, but severed the partnership after deciding that the distributor was too bent on reaching mass markets. Subsequently, Bang & Olufsen, under the direction of Mr. Myrup, opened its own branch in Tokyo.

When the firm decided to enter the Korean market, necessitating the selection of a local distributor, it had the same ideal in mind. Mr. Myrup chose the Kolon Group, mainly because Kolon was already selling cars for the German automaker BMW under a similar philosophy.

At the show in Seongnam, visitors can see many of the products - such as stereo sets, TVs and telephones - that Bang and Olufsen engineered over its history which seemed ahead of their time or surprised people with their unorthodox styles. One example is the Beomaster 1900, designed by Jacob Jensen and first marketed in 1976, a slim, sleek radio receiver with touch-sensitive buttons and hidden controls. When Mr. Jensen first suggested the design, the company's engineers dismissed it as impossible; but management was so impressed by the idea that they pushed the engineers to solve the mechanics involved to make it.

Also at the exhibition, held in the Bundang district of Seongnam at Samsung Plaza, is a 1934 radio designed to look like a chair, called the Hyperbo 5RG. The peculiar gadget was inspired by Marcel Breuer, an architect who designed the Wassily chair. His innovation was the use of an L-shaped steel leg structure. Like the Hyperbo, many of the earlier products on display reflect Germany's pre-World War II Bauhaus movement.

For more information on the exhibition, call 02-518-5103.

by Lee Sang-min

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