The Doffing Headphone

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April 24, 2006 Etiquette is the code that governs the expectations of social behavior, the conventional norm. It is an unwritten code, and as per the famous quotation, means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential. The rapid introduction of new technologies such as portable computers, cell phones and portable music players has created a technologically induced disconnect but new social protocols are evolving. Designer Synnove Fredericks recognised this and has created a wonderful new social prop - the Doffing Headphone. It was all sparked off by a gentleman's protest against the decline of manners and etiquette in a mens magazine. Synnove read the article and soon after attended a Mobile Clubbing event in Liverpool Street Station in London. A Mobile Clubbing event is where a group of say 200 or so people gather with their personal stereos to listen to their preferred choice of music, while dancing with their friends. Watching the masses, Synnove noticed that social protocols had evolved so people could signify if they wished to remain inside their musical experience or wished to chat. “I noticed they would take one earpiece off if they were greeting someone but didn't want to stop, and both if they were stopping for conversation. This is similar to the tradition of hat doffing where a gentleman raises his hat is raised off the head in acknowledging someone in the street, or taken off and placed under the arm when stopping for conversation, particularly with a lady. So Synnove hatched an idea to “show how accessories can be used to communicate with strangers in a similar way to historical props, walking sticks, umbrellas, glasses etc.” Ladies and gentlemen, The Doffing Headphone

Synnove’s journey has since taken her through the development of the concept and on to the design of the first of what we expect will be many interesting social accoutrements. “The headphones needed to remain elegant and practical whilst still showing a doffing motion,” she said.

“The styling of the headphones allows the user to effortlessly hold the headphones in a specific way. Having a tactile wooden handle with a delicate extension leaves you with only one place to hold it. This form and material follows eyeglass handles and walking sticks. I wanted to use a traditionally English wood so I visited a Lute makers to source them. Holly is striking, strong and beautiful to carve, so you can get some fine detailing and add value to the piece.

Synnove is now looking to the future and she has plans. “The next step is to get some fully functioning models incorporated into fashion photography and shows, so if anyone has a fashion shoot happening and wants some beautiful accessories, please email me.

“I’m interested in the development of an extended range of sophisticated fashion objects that integrate contemporary technology. So far the response has been really positive, it seems to fill in the gaps some super slick personal stereos have missed. I want take it that much further!”

“I’m interested in having discussions with anyone who feels they might be able to play a part – with research facilities, manufacturing capability, financing, partnering, whatever… the project deserves the right partners.”

Synnove can be emailed here.

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