Axel Pfaender was an illustrator who, in 2012, took on a side project just for the fun of it. Little did he know, four years and one successful Kickstarter campaign later, he would have a full-fledged business and full time job. Axel’s company is called Berlin Boombox, and they make boomboxes reminiscent of the ghetto blasters of the 80’s but with a modern twist. They’re made of cardboard, and they attach to any device with a 3.5mm stereo jack. The Berlin Boombox is a modern instrument rooted in nostalgia.
Berlin Boombox is modern, because of the company’s awareness of the environmental implications of production. To be a successful company these days, you often have to be very transparent about the way your company interacts with, and affects the environment. It’s hard to ignore the call for more sustainable business practices, and less damaging and wasteful production process. The Berlin Boombox is made of recycled heavy corrugate cardboard, instead of plastic. While there is debate over which is better for the environment, the truth is here in the U.S. cardboard is more easily recycled and is less likely to end up in a landfill. Plus, the Berlin Boombox is folded flat when shipped, which maximizes shipping space, and uses less energy for shipping. All design, printing, and production of the product is done locally in Berlin. Also, you assemble the boombox yourself, so if a part breaks, you can order only the replacement part, instead of getting a whole new boombox.
The Berlin Boombox is also modern because it uses the web to its full advantage. Berlin Boombox teamed with DJ’s to make playlists that are available for free on Soundcloud. You can download these playlists, hook them up directly to your Berlin Boombox and blast the tunes from any street corner you happen to be on. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but can you image the breakers of the eighties in NYC bumping tunes from German DJ’s, or liking and re-posting their favorite DJ’s sets from across town?
The Berlin Boombox is modern because of the way it started. It used a Kickstarter campaign to get it off the ground. No Kickstarter would mean no Berlin Boombox today. Axel says, “Without Kickstarter I could not have done it, and I would have probably lost faith on the way without the incredible support from my backers.” The idea of crowdfunding is a huge modern advancement in business, with potential that we are only starting to see.
The Berlin Boombox is nostalgic, because of its inspiration. Founder Axel says the Berlin Boombox is “…something you want to show off, like back in the days.” The days he is referring to are the early 80’s. Think New York City. Think Beastie Boys. Think Run DMC. Think Adidas tracksuits. The neon color schemes of Berlin Boombox, the squared shape, it all draws an immediate sense of nostalgia when you see a Berlin Boombox.
The Berlin Boombox is nostalgic because it’s physical. You can touch it. A large discourse has been occurring in last decade or so around the experience economy. Customers are willing to pay for an experience, rather than a product. Today, many successful companies have products you can’t touch – Facebook, Google, Twitter. The Berlin Boombox is a physical product with one simple intention, blasting your favorite songs.
The Berlin Boombox is a modern product with roots in nostalgia. It’s eco-friendly, and took full advantage of the Internet to create a thriving brand. It’s nostalgic because of its roots in 80’s hip-hop, and the physicality of the product. In July Berlin Boombox is collaborating with the iconic Yo! MTV Raps. According to Axel, Berlin Boombox is looking to expand its product line with “…a small cube boombox and a very big, bad, powerful one.” Check out their website for more details, or watch how the Berlin Boombox is made, below.