In an era where fashion companies are stepping beyond their traditional domain into the world of industrial design, Swedish street fashion company WeSC has brought in Norra Norr to develop a range of bespoke headphones, Maraca and Pick-up, which have already hit the stores around the world.
Rooted deeply within snowboarding and skateboarding culture, WeSC is known best known for its clothing, but the street fashion brand has also firmly established itself as a purveyor of mobile sound. No longer are headphones just about high-quality electronics; they have become highly sought-after fashion accessories.
Whereas WeSC's previous designer collaborations have mainly focused on customizing colors and patterns for standard off- the-shelf models, Norra Norr was commissioned to design and develop custom headphones exclusive to WeSC. In creating Maraca and Pick-up, the Stockholm-based industrial design consultancy drew on their experience in designing other fashion accessories, such as classic watches and wearable sporting equipment, for clients such as POC and Yniq.
Maraca was inspired by old school Reggae and Hip Hop deejays who wore big headphones. The end product still has a retro feel, but lives up to modern design standards. The headphone is big enough to fit over the user's ear for high-quality sound and the most comfortable fit.
Similarly, Pick-up resembles the arm of a turntable with hinges and joints aligned to the axis of rotation. Working with basic cylindrical forms, Norra Norr wanted to create the look and feel of mechanical precision while still maintaining a sense of playfulness. This small and agile headphone follows the wearer's jaw line and is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket when collapsed.
Norra Norr creative director Marcus Rudback says it has been both inspiring and challenging to help strengthen WeSC's as a street fashion brand and at the same time narrow the gap between fashion and electronics. "As an industrial designer, it's fascinating to work with a niche product. This project gave us the opportunity to create products with strong personalities," he says.
"In designing the two headphones, we took great care in how they fit and looked on the user. But 'We have fun' is the WeSC way - something we also believe in. We think this philosophy shines through in the final products, which are playful but still functional with a bit of Scandinavian design sensibility thrown in for good measure," Rudback added.
"The trick is to make sure it looks good without detracting from the ergonomics and functionality. No one will thank you if you design something that is aesthetically pleasing but isn't a quality product."