Where Hi-Fi Meets High Design:
Hifive by Rudi Wulff

We met up with Oslo-based product designer Rudi Wulff to gain a deeper understanding of the inspiration and thought process behind the successful design of the Hifive series.

In 2017, Northern asked designer Rudi Wulff to create a design concept for a modular storage system, based on his background as a DJ and his experience with electronic equipment. Modular storage is a well-established furniture category with a rich history, based on the need to adapt and optimize storage solutions for specific spaces or rooms. Northern wanted the Hifive system to cover all needs; a modern and functional freestanding and wall-hung storage system with both open and closed units capable of storing electronic devices and other objects. While demanding, this approach opens the door to a wide-appealing and useful furniture series.

The first Hifive modules were successfully launched in 2018, and the system has expanded over the years with more components and features, making it even more versatile. “It’s exciting to work with a system that can grow and develop over many years. It’s like a living and maturing piece of furniture, being populated with new and up-to-date components and areas of use,” says Rudi when asked how a design can stay relevant over time. “A design should provide room for development, renewal, and adaptation to the present and future.”

The starting point was to create a functional and elegant media furniture, with all necessary features to satisfy everyone from the picky interior designer to the keen hi-fi enthusiast or the nerdy record collector,” the designer relates. “This was a very personal project for me because it included so many aspects of my work, interests, and lifestyle.”

As a passionate record collector and DJ for over 20 years, with a deep interest in design history, creating the Hifive system was a journey through childhood memories, vintage stereo racks, and today’s practical needs. The designer fondly remembers the B&O television cabinet from the ’70s in his childhood home basement. Watching TV or playing computer games required a special routine. “You develop both a physical and an emotional relationship to a product this way, and I wanted something similar with my design, only wrapped in a new and fresh look.”

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“A really important property I wanted to emphasize was designing tactile furniture that forces the user to interact with it physically to operate the equipment inside, meaning you have to touch and use the furniture in an active way,” the designer expresses passionately.

The scrolling door closes to conceal and hide the contents inside behind a flexible wooden screen. This concept, known as a tambour door, is a centuries-old furniture-making art still widely functional and aesthetic. All dimensions and details in the Hifive system are based on and configured to physical formats, ensuring everything from vinyl LPs to modern electronic devices fits perfectly, making the complete cabinet set suitable for any room.

On its way to becoming a best-selling staple in the Northern collection, the series now includes the original storage system, a slim and more compact wall-mounted system, and a vitrine cabinet series with longer and taller storage units fronted by glass sliding doors. All modules fit within the system and can be combined in configurations only limited by imagination. Only the future can tell the full story of the Hifive and what the next step will be.