Some people, we assume, enjoy gadgets, devices and various bits of tech that look like alien pebbles from the future, otherwise there wouldn’t be so much of that ‘less is more’ sort of design in all things electronic. We, however, prefer a little more character to things, a bit more retro fun than faux-futurism cool, timeless charm over built-in obsolescence.
That’s not to say we don’t demand performance too; style over substance is all well and good in a Christopher Nolan film, but when it comes to what we use, listen to and work with every day, you want to reach at least a solid baseline of technological quality. Here then are the pieces of retro-styled tech for the home that not only work as well as any flashy, cutting-edge nonsense, but have the aesthetic quirks to last far beyond their supposed expiry dates.
Leak Stereo 130 Integrated Amplifier, £799
Coming from one of the biggest audio names of the 1960s and 70s, revived for the 21st century, the Leak Stereo 130 is a descendent of their famed Stereo 30 and it shows. The boxy, real-wood enclosure and retro frontage hides a wealth of serious audiophile goodness, improving on its ancestor drastically. A good part of that is its wireless connectivity (which would have seemed like magic when the Stereo 30 came out in 1963), yet Leak’s amp will hold up in pretty much any system you need it for. If you’re old-school enough to still use CDs, pair it with the Leak CDT Player (£459 with walnut enclosure) for smooth, precise and wonderfully versatile listening at home.
Available at Leak HiFi.
Taeha Types Bespoke Keyboard, from $1,800 (approx. £1,350)
Forget flimsy laptop keyboards; if you want to get some serious work done you need something satisfying, mechanical and, in an ideal world, hand-assembled by twitch streamer and luxury keyboard specialist Tae Ha Kim. Like any bespoke project, each keyboard is assembled to your strict requirements and personal style. Want a keyboard to suit your mid-century modern sensibilities? Go for it. Best of all, you can see very clearly what you’re getting, as each keyboard is assembled live on Twitch on Kim’s own channel.
Bespoke commissions start from $1,800, available at Taeha Types.
Hue Filament Smart Bulbs, from £17.99 per bulb
Lighting makes all the difference to your home and if you’re currently missing evenings hanging out at NYC loft-style cocktail bars, then these vintage-inspired filament bulbs with their soft white light should do the trick. Like other smart bulbs, they can be dimmed or brightened using your smart home system of choice or via Bluetooth, but with the Edison-esque look of a turn-of-the-century proto lightbulb.
Available at Philips-Hue.
Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000C Turntable, £9,000
It’s not just watchmakers delving into their archives nowadays; audio company Bang & Olufsen have reached back to the 70s for this re-creation of their seminal turntable. It’s about as authentic as these things can get as each is actually a refurbished and upgraded original Beogram 4000. Think of it as a restomod for your vinyl and, like the classic car equivalent, combining the retro style that made it an icon with an updated preamp so that it can be integrated into any modern home sound-system. The only downside is that there are under 100 of the things available.
Available at Bang-Olufsen.
Focal Chora 806 Bookshelf Loudspeaker, £599
Small but powerful, the Chora 806 bookshelf speaker from audio specialist Focal hits far harder than its size might suggest. With its combination of natural wood cabinet and unique Slatefibre cone, the Chora 806 opts for natural, organic finishes in a classic shape, though the cone is there for more than its grain. Using recycled, non-woven carbon fibres all pointing in the same direction, the cone offers improved damping, great rigidity and lightness – the three things you really want from a driver. Available in a lovely dark grey, a funkier tan colour with light wood or a glossy black number, it’s a charming throwback design that backs up its retro good looks with masterful audio technology.
Available at Focal.
Bespoke Arcades Apex Play, from £2,595
Nothing is more definitively retro than an old, coin-fed arcade machine and there’s no arcade machine quite like the Apex from the aptly-named Bespoke Arcades. The 174cm tall cabinet comes equipped with a baseline of 10,000 classic games, and the ability to add emulators and hook up next-gen consoles means it’ll never get old. It’s not cheap of course – the ‘Elite’ version caps out at £4,795 – but given the amount of pounds you’ve probably dropped over the years on these things, it’s probably a decent investment.
Available at Bespoke-Arcades.