Co.Design

Cardboard Headphones Make The Beat Drop

These limited edition art pieces from Studio Zimoun use cotton balls to drum rhythms straight into your ears.

Do they have noise cancellation? Nope. A bass boost mode? Definitely not. What about a 3.5mm jack to plug into an iPod? Negatory!

But you know what? We want a pair of Studio Zimoun’s kinetic headphones all the same. Rather than typical micro-acoustic electronics, they use the basic mechanism of a cotton ball connected to specially configured DC motors to drum rhythms straight into your ears. It’s a shame that only six pairs will be made. As if it needed clarifying, these headphones are a work of art.

“In this case the materials and set-up is super simple, but the sound and motion it is generating is kind of complex,” explains Zimoun team member Ulf Kallscheidt. “It's never really repeating, very organic, and almost feels alive.”

These deceptively simple audio setups are a theme for Zimoun (both the studio and the artist that goes by the same name), which is known for building massive, concussive installations using everything from cotton ball drummers banging inside a fluid tank to IV bags dripping on sizzling-hot metal slabs. In comparison, these headphones may seem out of left field from the studio. But to them, size doesn’t matter. To them, the validity of the project is built from experience rather than scale.

Zimoun installations activate space ad architecture to create complex sound space. “Zimoun's work is about sound, space, material, simplicity, organic behavior of artificial materials, generative methods," Kallscheidt says, "in that sense the headphones are based on the same interest Zimoun is exploring in other works, too.”

Indeed, there’s something about the simple industrial design that allows us to enjoy the quirkiness of these humble cardboard headphones as much as we might a mega sonic installation. If you haven’t had the pleasure of exploring Zimoun's full portfolio, the video above is a superb highlight of their massive, orchestral kinetic installations.

Learn more here.

[Hat tip: designboom]

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