H(earring) is a collection of hearing aids jewellery founded by photographer Kate Fichard - who is partially deaf and has been wearing hearing aids for over twenty-five years - and designed by Flora Fixy & Julia Dessirier from FandD Studio. Hearring truly changes the vision and challenges the fixed (design) mindset behind hearing aids, redefining and liberating it from physical, psychological complexes and social boundaries, without losing its function.
The design of hearing aids is still overly related to a medical prosthetic, emphasising disability. The devices are always offered in a minimal range of tones, imitating skin and hair colour. The design tries to be as discreet as possible. Kate, Flora and Julia present a collection of jewellery from the most thoughtful piece to the most visible, to be worn single, in matching or mismatching pairs, fixed onto the device, magnifying its curves. The hearing aid is underlined, extended, increased, exaggerated, it becomes shiny and visible. The prosthetic is no longer hidden, it becomes more acceptable: a statement rather than a camouflage.
More than meets the ear
Did you know over 5% of the world's population suffer from disabling hearing loss (according to the World Health Organization)? That is about 466 million people. Why do we define and approach such a broad population with a negative, sometimes even patronising and exclusive lexicon such as the disabled, invalid, incapable, suffering, unusual, loss, less ....?
If there is one thing that has always fascinated me, particularly in today’s world, it is dualism. The energising contradiction, the dynamic of the in-between as well as our everlasting search to find a balance (or the ‘right’ answer), whether between yes or no, good or bad, new or old, beautiful or ugly, able or disabled. Hearring not only captures this remarkably as part of its meaning and purpose of design, but it is also featured in its empowering connection and contribution between technology and human nature, our senses.
For me Hearring stands for so much more than a hearing aid. It stands for challenging the status quo, and traditional definitions. It goes beyond the voice of marketing and truly hears, includes and values the needs of all humans in their design answers. No wonder they received the Swarovski Fashion Accessories Prize at the Hyères International Festival 2018.
Kate: “This collection was elaborated from my own model of hearing aid. Its brand, Resound, offered products matching with our modern and connected life, proposing an app for smartphone to manage the features. We are currently working together with Margot Grangeon as a business and strategy partner on the launching of the brand. Some of the design of the first collection will be declined in order to be able to fix it on more types of hearing aids, and thus reaching a larger audience.”