Tivoli + Cappellini = Letdown?

A promising design collaboration yields only a few superficial embellishments.

When I first heard that Tivoli Audio, the Boston-based maker of attractive high-performance radios, was teaming up with the esteemed Italian furniture company Cappellini, I was pumped–I imagined some sort of fanciful cross between the spunky little SongBook and Stephen Burks’s Love tables (or, even better, Shiro Kuramata’s classic Revolving Cabinet). But the results of the collaboration, shown at a press lunch in New York yesterday, are underwhelming. The Cappelini Collection merely adds a couple of superficial embellishments–a high-gloss lacquer finish in three colors, and an embossed speaker grille–to two existing products, the NetWorks and Model One radios. The new models are undeniably handsome, but the seven layers of lacquer mean they will be significantly pricier too. Design hounds may have been willing to pay an added premium for that kind of pedigree at one time, but these days? A $599 radio seems extravagant enough.

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