At the Cooper-Hewitt's 9th annual National Design Awards gala in New York on Oct. 23, Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo's "Top Chef," announced the winning design and presented the award to Stuart Karten.
"In developing Zon, we sought to move the perception of the hearing aid from a medical appliance to an object that would help overcome the stigma associated with hearing loss," said Karten.
"This award from the public is a tremendous validation that Zon has achieved its goal."
Zon's dynamic, sculptural shape transforms the standard beige hearing aid into a beautiful object. Tailored with a level of detail befitting a product of a much larger scale, the faceted, 1.3-inch-long Zon possesses a jewel-like quality enhanced by high-gloss metallic paint. When placed behind the ear, Zon becomes virtually invisible with a palette of six understated colors that complement hair and skin tones. Its form embraces the body's geometry for a secure fit void of "hot spots" that could cause discomfort.
"I'm delighted that the public has chosen to honor an object that marries design with technological innovation. The success of Zon demonstrates that good design can indeed have a transformative impact on our everyday lives," said Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson. Zon competed with 276 nominees on the People's Design Award web site, where users could nominate and vote for their favorite designs.
Nominees ranged from everyday objects (bikes and water bottle) and design classics (the Eames Lounge Chair and the Adidas Samba shoe) to architecture (the Beijing National Stadium and the Hearst Tower) and examples of socially responsible design (the PlayPump Water System and the Make It Right Project). The site received thousands of votes and more than 119,000 visitors between Sept. 22 and Oct. 21, 2008.
The People's Design Award is part of Cooper-Hewitt's largest public education initiative, National Design Week, Oct. 19-25, 2008. For the past three years, National Design Week has drawn attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life through outreach to schoolteachers and students and partnerships with design organizations across the country.