Redesigning Headphones: Building Electronics to Last

One of the winners of the Design for (Your) Product Lifetime competition talks about redesigning headphones for sustainability.


This is the third post in a series from the winning designers in the Design for (Your) Product Lifetime competition. Previously, we featured stories from the designers of a smarter mobile phone and a microwave.\n
For the audiophile, there are few experiences more rewarding than buying a pair of brand-new headphones and enjoying your favorite tunes. However, with advances in technology and high-fidelity sound engineering, the personal audio market has become flooded with comparable, mid-range headphones that lack flexibility and individuality.
From their inception, headphones have remained largely unchanged, with a design consisting of ear cups that house the audio drivers and a headband to string all of the components together. This is a tried and true design language that has withstood the test of time, but has also proven to be wasteful and indistinct.
With such a wide array of complex gadgets available today, I never imagined that I would be rethinking a simple pair of headphones when I first set out to design a product for the Design for (Your) Product Lifetime competition sponsored by Autodesk, Core77, and iFixit. But the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that headphones were due for a bit of thoughtful innovation. My goal for the competition wasn’t only to create a more sustainable product and purchasing environment with my Able Headphones concept, but also build a product platform that has the potential to elevate a simple idea to world-class levels.

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