A hearing aid designed by Stuart Karten Design for Starkey Laboratories, Inc. has been selected for inclusion in the National Design Triennial: Why Design Now? exhibition on view at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.
The exhibition, which examines why design thinking is an essential tool for solving some of today's most urgent problems, features SKD's Zon hearing aid as a powerful case study that highlights the ways that creative problem solving can improve the quality of healthcare.
"When we started the project, we were shocked to discover that most people with hearing loss live in denial for five to nine years before seeking treatment because they associate with hearing aids with weakness and old age," said SKD Principal Stuart Karten. "We designed Zon to eliminate this harmful stigma and provide hearing-impaired people with a discrete hearing aid that speaks to personal enhancement, style and sophistication. We are honored that Cooper-Hewitt has selected Zon as an example of an innovative design solution for the healthcare industry."
Modeled with taut, precise surfaces, Zon minimizes skin contact and allows freer airflow behind the ear, promoting a more comfortable user experience. Available in a palette of six understated colors that complement users' hair and skin tones, the hearing aid becomes virtually invisible when placed behind the ear. Functional innovations, such as a battery door designed so that users can lay the hearing aid on the table during the daily battery loading for extra stability, improve usability for the 60- to 85-year-old target demographic, many of whom suffer from diminished dexterity.
Organized by Cooper-Hewitt curators Ellen Lupton, Cara McCarty, Matilda McQuaid and Cynthia Smith, the National Design Triennial will be global in reach for the first time, reflecting the connectedness of design practices and the need for international cooperation to solve the world's problems.