Around the halls at the the L.A. Chapter of IDSA, among folks at USC's program in Medical Device and Diagnostic Engineering, and at the offices at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, most people know Stuart Karten as the founder of the Marina del Rey design firm, SKD; respected designer; winner of many design awards; all around good guy.
Few knew that, deep in his heart, he harbored a lifelong dream to be an advice columnist. Luckily, he confided his yearning to us and, in the spirit of encouraging latent talents and mid-life career reinvention—and happening to have a platform handy that was just crying out for an opinionated columnist—we agreed to let him give it a go.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet Dr. Stu, who this week will dispense advice to the design challenged. Let me say right out: Dr. Stu's opinions are his own and don't necessarily reflect the views of the management.
Many of you probably already know Stu Karten. He's the guy that Baby Boomers—7918 of whom turn 60 every day—are counting on to make hearing aids actually cool. When that massive generation, that blew its ears out early listening to Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, finally cops to the need for hearing enhancement, the man they're most likely to thank is Karten.
Last year, Karten and his team of 25 designers at SKD created a hearing aid so singularly beautiful and functional that it won the coveted People's Design Award at the Cooper Hewitt. Let's put this in perspective: other nominees included the Obama logo, the Strida 5.0 bicycle, and the iPhone 3G.
The Zon Hearing Aid, manufactured by Starkey, is 1.3 inches long and coated in metallic paint. It could be a hip earring or a Bluetooth device. It's just one of the many medical, consumer electronic, industrial and transportation devices that have made SKD the place to go for great empathic design.
Last year, Stuart and his team at SKD were one of our Top Five Design Factories in our October design issue.
This week, we hope you'll submit your own design dilemmas to the master. He's sure to provide an astute solution—or, at the very least, a good laugh.
Here are some of SKD's Greatest Hits:
The Zon Hearing Aid for Starkey:
Cook 'n Serve Tongs for Zyliss
[re]drive for SimpleTech
The Job Clock for EkaTime
Read Stuart Karten's Dear Stuart blog