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Peter Jackson of Milton Lloyd charitable trust approached Ilsa to assist with design for an idea he had been pondering for several years. In order to assist the elderly who suffer mild hearing loss he wished to develop the concept of a cupped hand behind the ear as a potential method of “capturing sound” and translate this into a functional outcome using an affordable production process, so that the items could be freely donated to those in need. 

Hearing aids are notoriously recognised as devices that no-one wished to display for fear that it might draw attention to their own impairment. The design challenge here was to make this idea as subtle and as easy to manage as possible given the constraints of the potentially extruding formation. The design ensured that the items could be easily fitted, removed and disguised when required with maximum enhancement for the minimum form. 

Ilsa discovered that actually cupping the hand itself could produce up to a 12db volume increase which increases audibility by 5%. The trick, was not to simply extend the size of the plate and form for capturing sound as it travels towards the ear, but instead to focus on the sound absorption and reflection properties of potential materials to effectively capture a greater “amount” of sound from a smaller surface area. 

Following a series of physical sketch models to determine optimum form, Ilsa developed a CAD model and worked with injection moulding specialists to optimise for production so that the forms could be easily and cheaply produced at less than 6 pence per pair using glass reinforced acetal. The final products are currently in testing before eventual further development.


Ilsa and her team are accessible, caring and fun to work with, whilst always professionally committed to finding beautiful and practical design solutions.


Lighten the burdens of another...