During Frog new york studio renovation, Dino (head of the Industrial Design team) asked for new designs of the wall volume knob which controls our studio sound system, I volunteered.
I came up with the idea of making real size human ear as a knob. I started with modeling ears in 3D softwares. (Not like real human ears, which connecting to a face, these 3D models need to have a closed back, and the side angle is more vertical in order to better facing people.)
After spending hours of modeling ears, I suddenly obsessed with them. They are such interesting organs. When we ever think about ears, we usually picture them as speakers due to the open shape, however, they are super sensitive stereo microphones[The Microphone vs The Ear]. Because they are on the sides of our head, sometime get covered by hairs, they are not as attractive as other organs. (I had silicone injected into my ear canal once for making custom in-ear headphones, I was surprised to see how deep my inner ears are, they almost meet each inside my brain!) What mostly attracted me are the complex shapes of outer ears, they have such unique shapes, I observed several peoples’ ears, there are so much characters and very different from people to people. Not like eyes you can define by the size and color, ears are much harder to describe with language. I have to admit, observing people’s ears is my new hobby when riding new york’s subway ;)
The 3D printed ear knob is surprisingly comfortable to hold and rotate. To better fit with the steel plate, it’s coated in gold to get a vintage cooper feeling.
I also designed a ceramic ear hook, which can be easily installed on walls for hanging stuff, it is white and glazed, very smooth finishing.