Zōn Hearing Aid Wins the 2008 People’s Design Award
The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presented its third People's Design Award to the Zōn hearing aid on Thursday, Oct. 23, at its ninth annual National Design Awards gala in New York. Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” announced the winning design and presented the award to Zōn’s designer Stuart Karten. National Design Week and the National Design Awards are sponsored by Target.
After thousands of votes were cast during the course of one month on Cooper-Hewitt’s website, Zōn―a hearing aid developed by the Los Angeles-based industrial design consultancy Stuart Karten Design―emerged as the public's favorite design.
Zōn transforms the standard beige, shapeless hearing aid into a dynamic, sculptural object that ergonomically embraces the geometry of the ear while taking advantage of the latest technology to provide the highest audio quality. Research shows that hearing impaired listeners wait up to eight years before being fitted with a hearing aid because of its perceived association with disability and weakness. Virtually invisible when placed behind the ear, Zōn turns the hearing aid into a high-performance object while providing unhampered communication and a modern alternative to a traditional design. The device was developed for Starkey Laboratories, a leading global supplier of hearing technology.
“I’m delighted that the public has chosen to honor an object that marries design with technological innovation. The success of Zōn demonstrates that good design can indeed have a transformative impact on our everyday lives,” said Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson. Marianne Cusato, designer of the Katrina Cottage, was selected as the first People's Design Award winner. TOMS Shoes, a company that gives away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold, received the award in 2007.
Based in Marina del Rey, Calif., Stuart Karten Design is an award-winning, full-service industrial design consultancy that works across a range of practices, including medical devices, consumer electronics, transportation and housewares. Karten is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, served as the former chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America and currently sits on the advisory board to the University of Southern California master’s program in Medical Device and Diagnostic Engineering.
About the People's Design Award
Launched on Sept. 22, the People's Design Award website received hundreds of nominations, thousands of votes and more than 119,000 visitors. By logging on to www.cooperhewitt.org, users were able to browse and vote from the existing nominees or upload images to nominate a new object. Nominees ranged from everyday objects (bikes and water bottles) 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). New this year was a People's Design Award Facebook application, allowing Facebook users to share and discuss their favorite designs with friends, expand the audience for the award contest and broaden the conversation about good design.
About the National Design Awards
First launched at the White House as a project of the White House Millennium Council, the awards were established to broaden awareness of the role of design in daily life by honoring individuals in all areas of design, as well as its patrons and supporters. The National Design Awards are accompanied each year by a variety of public education programs, including lectures, roundtable discussions, and workshops. For more information, please visit www.nationaldesignawards.org.
National Design Week | Oct. 19-25, 2008
The People's Design Award is part of Cooper-Hewitt's largest public education initiative, National Design Week. During this week, the museum is offering free admission for all visitors and hosting numerous free design programs. In recognition of the importance of design education, organizations and schools nationwide also will sponsor events during National Design Week. For a complete schedule of National Design Week events, please visit www.cooperhewitt.org.
About Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications. Founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt—granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper—as part of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the museum has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1967.
Minneapolis-based Target serves guests at 1,613 stores in 47 states nationwide. Since 1946, the corporation has invested five percent of its income in the communities it serves. Target gives more than $3 million a week to its local communities through grants and special programs. Target partners with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.
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