The Royal National Institute for Deaf People is hunting for a revolutionary hear-wear design which it hopes will shrug off the stigma associated with traditional hearing protection.
The charity has launched a design competition that will support its Don’t Lose the Music campaign, having worked with Brunel and De Montfort universities earlier this year.
The campaign, which has been running for four years, aims to raise awareness of the increased risk of damage to permanent hearing when exposed to loud music in bars, clubs or at gigs for prolonged periods of time.
‘There is a massive gap in the market for attractive, affordable hearing protection. Most young people have experienced the first signs of permanent hearing damage after a night out, yet have no idea how to prevent it. This is partly because they don’t want to wear existing earplugs because they are not readily available and are unattractive,’ says Thomas Fiddian, RNID’s product development manager.
‘Earplugs are not currently designed with aesthetics or fashion in mind – in fact there is no ear protection product on the market that has been directly designed and marketed at young music-lovers who need to be able to buy products that are affordable and desirable, and that will protect their hearing,’ he adds.
RNID is hoping that the competition, specifically targeted at design students, will yield concepts that interest the youth market, and that will transform the image of hearing protection.
A spokeswoman for the charity explains that the competition follows on from the Victoria & Albert Museum’s hear-wear exhibition in 2005, which showcased concepts and prototypes by 15 designers, including Ross Lovegrove and Ideo.
Competition entrants will have the opportunity to win placements with design consultancies, including Ideo and Tangerine, though this is to be confirmed.
Ideo, Tangerine and The Alloy will be among the judges.
For more information, visit www.dontlosethemusic.com/plug.