Design and the Elastic Mind

Synnøve Fredericks
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
Doffing Headphone. Concept. 2006

Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Doffing Headphone. 2006

Synnøve Fredericks
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
Doffing Headphone
Concept. 2006 Bluetooth-powered headphones, brass, faux tortoise shell, and hand-carved English holly wood. Lent by Synnøve Fredericks. Image by Anna Weber

PAOLA ANTONELLI: This is Synnøve Frederick’s Doffing Headphones project, described by designer Tony Dunne:

TONY DUNNE: The Doffing Headphones project consists of what look like two earbuds or earphones that fit inside your ear, and then one of them which has a long extension like a handle about a foot long.

And the idea is that you'd wear them like normal headphones but holding the one with the handle, and as soon as you meet somebody that you know you remove one earphone, and have a brief exchange with them. Then you put it back in.

New technologies have definitely allowed us to create bubbles around ourselves, to isolate ourselves from others in public spaces. It's common to see people listening to their iPods on the Underground signaling the fact that they don't want to be disturbed.

I think what's starting to happen now is that designers are exploring how to make the situation more ambiguous. It's not just a case of we have our bubble, or we don't. But the bubble is maybe more translucent there are more opportunities for this sort of in-between position to be explored of half-listening to the technology, half-talking to someone else.

But I think a role that design could play is exploring how polite we want to be, you know to what extent these new technological products need to be redesigned to acknowledge our cultural interactions and manners and etiquette and things like that.

Some projects now are starting to explore how those bubbles can join up to create shared bubble spaces amongst a large number of people and create these sort of chains of of listeners.

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