DJCAD research expo.

katie_brown_hearing_aids_DJCAD (1) - Copy

(A small vitrine displaying some of my early stage material exploration prototypes.)

‘Exploring hearing aids and super normal design’

This display shows a selection of work in progress on the PhD project, exploring hearing aids and super normal design. When we think of hearing aids, images of beige or robotic silver devices come to mind. These are outdated designs linked to the medical model of disability. As hearing aid wearers consciously make decisions to pass, cover or un/cover their ‘disability,’ the design of hearing aids could reflect more nuanced attitudes towards disability.

The term ‘super normal’ was coined in 2007, when designers Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison curated an exhibition of 210 products, showcasing objects that, “pass the test of the everyday.” This exhibition celebrated products that have become invisible through their everyday-ness, designs that appear to be un-designed. Their heightened normality making them super normal.

Super normal is an interesting philosophy when exploring the design of hearing aids. There is a juxtaposition here between normalcy and disability, super normal design may be able to explore this tension. Might super normal sensibilities allow designers to create disability objects that are the new normal? Challenging current trends to conceal or ‘cover’, by creating understated, even iconic designs. These material explorations act as investigative objects, aiming to explore alternatives to the current design of hearing aids.

(late november, 2018.)

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