Braun Calculator


Sometimes it’s not about doing the different but its about doing the similar only looking and functioning better.

I recently received a birthday gift from a very old friend, a Limited Edition white Braun Calculator. My pal has particularly good taste – obviously other than his clearly suspect taste in friends – and I know that he has championed, amongst other products, these perfect, stylish and durable calculators for years.

A little like the argument about why do you need a camera or a calculator when you have an IPhone? Surely they cover the same bases. Yes but no. Admittedly, you may need more than pockets or even a brief case to carry your choice of camera, calculator, Filofax – which, mark my words is about to see a resurgence supported by ‘back to basics’ and ‘digital detoxing’ Millennials – wallet, alarm clock and phone but there is something fun and creative in developing your portfolio of preferred items and relishing their use for their specialized task.

You are probably saying, Braun, don’t they make shavers, depilatory trimmers and hairstyling tools – and you’d be right. Originally, only available in black the iconic ET44 and ET66 Braun Calculator (the latter has an additional and very useful slide on protective cover) were collaboratively designed by Dietrich Lubs and Dieter Rams in 1977 and 1987, respectively.


Dieter Rams, joined Braun in 1955, a German business originally founded by Engineer, Max Braun, who made radio sets in Frankfurt in 1921, and it comprises a beautiful and practical example of Rams’ lean design philosophy “weniger, aber besser” – literally “less, but better”. It is said that early Apple designers – Rams is known to have been a huge influence on Apple’s chief designer, Jonathan Ives – were so influenced by the look of the ET44 that the original IPhone calculator app, down to the yellow “equals” button, and the early incarnations of the IPod bore striking resemblances to the Lubs/Rams designs, including the ET44.

The ET44 and ET66 are not Rams and Lubs’ only iconic collaboration for Braun. From 1971, we also have the the charming and hugely tactile AB1A travel alarm clock, another exceptional example of function, great design and adherence to Rams’ simple design mantra. It’s almost a pleasure to wake up to its shrill chirrup!

If you’d like to add these beautiful, highly practical and iconic objects to your personal collection please click the AMAZON link below the image in the following gallery.


Braun Calculator – White


Braun Calculator – Black


Braun Classic Square Travel Alarm Clock BNC002WHWH – White


Braun Classic Square Travel Alarm Clock BNC002BK – Black

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Image credits – with grateful thanks – Braun AG and Zeon Ltd.

BOSE – Future Design Classics

BOSE 35 a

The world of personal electronics is clearly one of the fastest moving. Trade shows like the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, conveniently in January each year, introduce the world to the eye opening developments that have taken a number of years of careful testing prior to bringing to market. The press will be flush with excitement as the market discovers those little boxes that are going to add massively to our lives.

In my search to bring you what may be regarded as “Future Design Classics”, I have scoured the trade shows of recent years seeking identify those aesthetic icons that may already be very popular but also I believe they will stand the test of time.

The first company whose products are, in my view, worthy of the accolade Future Design Classic are made by BOSE. A US corporation based in Framingham (Massachusetts) and was founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar G Bose (who died in July 2013). BOSE is perhaps best known for its home audio systems and speakers, noise cancelling headphones, professional audio systems and automobile sound systems.

BOSE’s QuietComfort 35 noise cancelling headphone are simply superb. Launched in 2016 they are available in silver or black and use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly. They are ultra comfortable and comprise a simple folding mechanism to be stored when not in use. Widely regarded as the “best of breed” noise cancelling headphones they will permit you to enjoy music or a film on a plane train or on a crowded street. They have the additional advantage of a power cord should the headphone battery run out mid-Atlantic allowing you to enjoy the remains of your film – but with less sound screening.

The SoundLink Mini is a loud speaker that smaller and lighter version of the successful SoundLink Mobile and was introduced in 2013. It weighs just 0.7 kg and includes a charging cradle as well as a power socket. The case is made of sandblasted aluminium. Reviewers and users have praised the excellent sound and build quality. SoundLink Mini uses Bluetooth to play audio from cell phones and other portable devices. Some excellent silicon and leather cases for this beautiful practical and portable mini speaker have been made available by BOSE and others in the market.


In August 2017, the SoundLink Mini II was superceded by the technically more advanced SoundLink Revolve, a conical shaped and aluminium clad mini-speaker, with patented sound delivery. Its sound is big and bold – far superior to the plethora of other Bluetooth mini-speakers on the market. Its real, “head and shoulders” superiority comes from its technology that allows it to be heard from all aspects as you move around the speaker.

If you would like own one of thses BOSE products that we believe will be Future Design Classics please click the following AMAZON links:

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones – BlackBose SoundLink Revolve Bluetooth Speaker – Triple Black

Whilst we are told that stocks of the SoundLink Mini II can still be obtained we’d encourage you to check with your local suppliers – that’s just how good we feel these mini speakers are!

An interesting postscript: A majority of BOSE Corporation’s shares were gifted by Dr. Bose in 2013 to his alma mater MIT who are prohibited from selling their shares in BOSE and are unable to participate in the management and governance of the company.

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Photos by Bose

Billingham 225 Camera Bag

Billingham 2

Returning to my core mission of celebrating aesthetically pleasing and classically designed icons mention must be made of the beautiful English made bags of M Billingham and Co Ltd – better known to us as “Billingham Bags”.

In 1973, Martin Billingham founded his eponymous business making fishing bags and forty years on the business is still in family ownership. Indeed the essence of the light brown canvas bags are reminiscent of a trout fishing bag my father gave me over forty years ago complete with many internal sections for reels and tackle. By 1978 it was discovered that a large number of their bags were being sold to a New York based photographer thus igniting the most important connection between these durable water-resistant canvass and rubber bonded bags, edged in finest leather and their obvious target market.

Typically a Billingham bag is full of sections divided by velcro sided foam panels that can be varied to accommodate several lenses, camera bodies, flash units and filters. The larger models also feature external straps to hold tripods.

The world of photography has undergone a revolution in its transition to digital image capture and a trend away from larger SLR type cameras – Please check out here our piece on the new Hasselblad X1D – Hasselblad X1D to the more convenient “point and shoot” or even the use of a high pixel camera like that of the new iPhone X. Yet it seems that the future of the Billingham bag, as the bag of choice for the professional or serious amateur  photographer, seems set for many years to come. The Billingham range has also evolved to offer a range of smaller bags designed for compact cameras and their accessories.

HB x1d-above

I bought my first Billingham bag, a large brown canvass 225 with chestnut leather piping, in the late 1980’s to accommodate my beloved SLR camera, a Nikon 801 body – to which I had attached a Nikon motor drive – and had a large flash unit, several Nikkor zoom and wide angled lenses, straps, boxes of Ilford and Kodachrome film – both black and white and colour – and a tripod. It was an excellent collection that I used regularly and produced some pretty decent photos. My habit of saving both boxes and receipts from my favourite camera shop “Fox Talbot” (that merged with lager rival “Jessops” in 1998 now owned by TV’s Dragon’s Den investor, Peter Jones) stood me in good stead. In the middle 1990’s, when we were away on holiday and our house was being renovated and some light fingered painter/decorator stole my entire Billingham bag and its contents. The insurance company were impressed by my proofs of purchase and refunded the entire loss allowing me to replace my favourite bag and its contents.

For me the most adaptable bag in the current Billingham range – and there are more expensive ones – and the one I have owned for several years, is the Billingham 225 – see here a live review of this bag –Billingham 225 camera bag

If you would like to enjoy the evident benefits of these most appealing icons of modern photography please click the AMAZON link below the image


Billingham 225 Canvas Camera Bag With Tan Leather Trim – Khaki

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Image credits M. Billingham & Co Ltd and Hasselblad AB

Hasselblad X1D

Hasselblad X1D

I love taking photos, always have done. The more spontaneous the better, capturing what Henri Cartier Bresson called the “definitive moment” – see our earlier post Henri Cartier-Bresson – Rue Mouffetard, Paris (1954). This invariably means me using my iPhone 6S with all the capability of its 12 megapixels to take a lot of half decent pictures – along with a fair share of howlers.

For a while, pre-digital, I liked using an entry level Nikon 401 with a variety of Nikkor lenses and standard 35mm Ilford FP4 black and white film. The results were often better than ok. My khaki Billingham bag – you needed a great bag to lug around 4 kgs of kit – was stolen during a house renovation and I fell out of love with film.

My mantras in realising the full potential of Aestheticons, as an experience sharing website, is to seek to predict Future Iconic Classics – those developments that move us forward and make the great even better. I have every expectation that the new Hasselblad X1D will do just that.

Celebrating its 175th anniversary last year (2016), the most recent incarnation of this Gothenburg (Sweden) based family dynasty is Victor Hasselblad AB, named after the great grandson of the founder. Hasselblad specialise in medium-format cameras which for years were the camera of choice for the fashion industry, NASA’s Moon landings and school yearbook photographers

On honeymoon the founder’s son, Arvid Hasselblad met George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak and, in 1888, the company became the very successful Swedish distributor of Eastman’s products. Arvid grandson, Victor, in 1924, went to study optics in Dresden (Germany) and his studies took him to the US. He returned to Sweden in the late 1930’s.

In 1940, having obtained a German aerial surveillance camera from a downed German bomber, the Swedish government ask Victor to create a domestic version. He established a production facility to realise this commission and further orders for cameras from the Swedish Air Force.

In 1942 Victor took over the family business, which also made watches and car parts for Saab. His dream was to design and build cameras. In 1948, the 1600 F (Series 1) was launched, and made small numbers, follow by the Series 2 in the early 1950’s.

The iconic 1000 F was released in 1950.

HB 1000 F 1

In 1957,  the 1000 F was replaced by the 500 C – a hugely successful camera that remained in production until 2013.

HB 500

In 2002, Hasselblad (in collaboration with Fuji) introduce the H-System which effectively dropped the traditional Hasselblad square negative format.

After various sales, takeovers and stock market launches in early 2017, aerial photography and drone manufacturer DJI acquired acquired majority interest in the company.

The Hasselblad launched its “game changing” X1D to reviewers in early 2017 – its first mirrorless medium-format camera weighing in at less than half the weight of a conventional digital version. A similar size of a standard SLR camera, its sleek milled aluminium body, fast XCD lenses, Nikon compatible hot shoe and 50 megapixel processor deliver, apparently, spectacular image quality. Well, what would you expect from a Hasselblad?

HB x1d-above

The rave reviews whilst negative about the reasonably hefty price tag for both body and XCD lenses, recognise that the X1D is not really intended to be a point and shoot camera for a quick snap, TechRadar describe it as a “a tool for more thoughtful, considered photography.” Their reviewer Rod Lawton concludes for its current and impending competition that the “Hasselblad X1D has certainly set the bar very high indeed.”

Would you like to add a stunning Hasselblad X1D to your camera bag?

As is usual with very high quality cameras the body and lens come separately – for the body please click the Amazon link below the image


Hasselblad X1D-50C 

And for the compatible Hasselblad XCD 45mm lens – please click the Amazon link below the image

Hasselblad H-3025045 XCD 45mm f/3.5 Len for X1D Camera, Black


You’ll need an iconic Camera Bag to accompany your new Hasselblad. My recommendation are the wonderful bags by British company, M Billingham & Son Ltd. – including their wonderful Billingham 225 – which I have – see here below. Please click the Amazon link after the image


Billingham 225 Canvas Camera Bag With Tan Leather Trim – Khaki

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Photo Credits – with grateful thnaks – Hasselblad AB and M. Billingham & Son Ltd.