The radio enters the home. The Design of Loudspeakers (1920-1930)

Through an exclusive selection of more than a hundred objects, this exhibition shows how over the course of a decade loudspeakers definitively changed the way we listened to the radio

From May, 18 2009 to May, 30 2010

The MNACTEC here presents one of the finest collections of loudspeakers anywhere in the world, built between 1920 and 1930. From this period onwards the radio became an item of household furniture, encouraging manufacturers to incorporate attractive aesthetics, far removed from the appearance of a scientific instrument that they previously had. This era coincides with the onset of the first design trends developed in the countries of Europe and in the United States.
The exhibitions been organised by the MNACTEC to show of the significant loudspeaker section of the Joan Julià collection recently acquired with the support of the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation of the Autonomous Regional Government of Catalonia. The aim of the exhibition is to explain their use, types and influence on radio broadcasting during the 1920s, while also showing the impact of design on one of the first household appliances. Thanks to the incorporation of these "loudspeakers" radios were no longer listened to individually over headphones, but could be used by the whole family group together. From 1930 onwards, loudspeakers formed an integral part of radio devices, and these separate speakers disappeared as a separate element of the apparatus. The Julià collection, built up over the course of more than 30 years, comprises over 3,600 items connected with radio broadcasting, including 156 loudspeakers.

The exhibition likewise addresses industrial design applied to the loudspeaker industry. Electromagnetic loudspeakers manufactured in various forms and finishes in accordance with technical and aesthetic requirements proliferated over the period 1920-1930. Mass manufacturing required massive sales, and it was not long before manufacturers realised the potential of design. It was during this period that the term industrial design was employed for the first time to describe work focused on consumer products, based on a wide range of domestic, mechanical and electrical devices.