|'Cultural heritage' tends to make us think of stave churches, Viking ships and historical objects.
However, the Norwegian Cultural
Heritage Association, which has the main responsibility for
organizing the Norwegian Year of Cultural Heritage 2009, has a wider
perspective. Its motto is "Cultural Heritage in Everyday Life",
and here both red telephone kiosks and Kurer radios have a natural
place. Just as they do on postage stamps.
In 1932 a young architect, Georg Fredrik Fasting, won the Oslo
Telephone Exchange's competition for the design of an outdoor
telephone kiosk and received a prize of NOK 800. By 1933 the first
telephone kiosk was in place on the quay below Akershus Castle. Soon
the red telephone kiosk could be seen everywhere.
Until the 1980s, there was a large gap between the demand for and
supply of private telephones. The Telegraph Service, later Norwegian
Telecom, was unable to meet the demand and public telephone kiosks
were a practical solution. This development gathered speed in the
1960s and the number of kiosks in Norway finally peaked at about
6000. Of these only 100 remain today, but they are protected by law.
Under an agreement with Telenor in 2007, the Directorate for Cultural
Heritage was able to ensure their preservation. The remaining kiosks
are still in operation and serve as a significant cultural reminder
in local communities in Norway.
A new icon saw the light of day in 1950 when Radionette launched its
Kurer radio. The Kurer was the company's greatest success, and the
red transistor model in imitation alligator skin was the undisputed
winner. Radionette's history started in 1927 with 24-year old Jan
Wessel, in a small rented room in Oslo. "Good, reasonably priced
radios for everyone" was the motto of the company's self-taught
founder, and with the Kurer he struck a gold mine. The radios sold
like hot cakes, not only in Norway, but all over the world. They were
exported to 60 countries and Radionette became a household name.
Factories were set up in Iran, South Africa and Turkey.
After the golden 50s, Radionette found itself in difficulties. Sales
fell at the end of the 60s and in 1972 the company was merged with
Tandberg Radiofabrikk. In 1978 Tandberg closed Radionette down and
went into liqui-dation itself later the same year. A major electrical
retailer acquired the trade mark and the Radionette name still exists
today. The radios are manufactured in Asia.