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Karten Design is a Los Angeles-based industrial design consultancy that assists companies in multiple stages of product development, from customer research and concept generation through product engineering and production. Karten Design works in the fields of consumer electronics, digital health, medical devices, housewares, business products, sporting equipment and transportation design.
Founded by Stuart Karten in 1984, the firm has a staff of 30 design researchers, industrial designers, and mechanical engineers. Previously the company was named Stuart Karten Design and rebranded in 2011. In 2008, Karten Design was one of five industrial design firms profiled in Fast Company's Masters of Design series. The firm celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014.
Clients and products
Karten Design has worked with industry leaders such as Boston Scientific, Samsung, DirecTV, Kohler Company, and Cardinal Health, and designed inaugural product lines for several start-up companies, including Endotronix, Vessix Vascular, and Cardiac Science. Recognizable designs including the Zon hearing aid, which won the 2008 People's Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. Other notable projects include:
- S Series with Sweep Technology - the S Series is the first hearing aid that uses the same touch technology as the iPod, so that users can adjust volume and change modes with the sweep of a finger. It designed for Starkey Laboratories, who introduced the device in late 2009.
- Zon - Designed for Starkey, the Zon hearing aid debuted in 2008. Small and sleek, it was targeted specifically at style-conscious older adults who were reluctant to adopt traditional hearing aids because of their bulky size and unattractive appearance.
- SimpleDrive and SimpleDrive (re)drive - eco-friendly external hard drives that were designed for Fabrik (now Hitachi) and released in 2008. The 500GB SimpleTech (re)drive introduces new sustainable materials to Fabrik's product line and the SimpleTech SimpleDrive makes steps toward improved sustainability by using the materials and manufacturing processes already in place at the company.
- LifeBook A Series Notebook - Designed for Fujitsu. It was recognized by Appliance Design Magazine as "an elegant, yet value-priced laptop computer designed specifically for a targeted segment of conservative-minded, home-based technology users in the U.S"
- VG Pocket Caplet and VG Pocket Tablet - Designed for Performance Designed Products. A portable gaming console with pre-loaded games.
- Jabra FreeSpeak BT-200 - a wireless mobile phone headset, which was the world's best-selling Bluetooth headset in 2005.
Awards and recognitions
Since 1984, Karten Design has received national and international design awards, including the Spark Award, Good Design Award, iF product design award,Red Dot design award, Appliance Design Excellence in Design Awards, CES Innovations Award, and the International Design Excellence Award.
The firm’s proprietary design research process, ModeMapping, which uses a unique form of information design to organize, communicate and analyze research findings, received an IDEA Award in 2006. Stuart Karten has presented ModeMapping at the Rhode Island School of Design Center for Design and Business in 2006, the IIT Institute of Design Design Research Conference in 2007, and the A+D Museum's Design Process and Innovation Symposium in 2008.
Karten Design has received recognition in the field of medical design. Its Clarion Speech Processor for Advanced Bionics – part of a cochlear implant for patients with severe hearing damage – received a Medical Design Excellence Award in 1998. In 2004, Stuart Karten was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the Medical Device Industry by MD&DI Magazine.
The firm was recognized by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2008 as the recipient of the prestigious People's Design Award, presented for excellence in the design of the Zon hearing aid for Starkey. The award was presented to Stuart Karten at the Cooper-Hewitt's 9th annual National Design Awards gala in New York on October 23, 2008 by Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo's Top Chef. The Zon was also featured in one of the Smithsonian Design Museums re-opening exhibitions in 2014. The Zon hearing aid appeared in the 2015 exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.
The Museum of Modern Art featured one of Karten Design's conceptual art projects, Epidermits, as part of the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition in 2008. The epidermit was described as an interactive pet of the future "spawned from a skin-and-hair-cell culture grown from a human cheek swab." It was subsequently posted by Wired (magazine) as "The Scariest Toy Concept Ever."
In 2009, Karten Design released Kurrency, a conceptual line of chandeliers constructed entirely from bills of different denominations and currencies. The chandeliers also project words such as "Greed" and "Safety Net" on the surface below. Karten was quoted in the press release as saying, “In today’s economy, there is perhaps nothing so beautiful as cold hard cash.”
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- Shierlitz, Tom (October 2008). "Five Top Design Firms Make the Gadgets We Love".
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- Core 77 Studio Bullitts
- "Observe: An Inspired and Empowering Hearing DeviceCooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum". Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. 2014-12-03. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- August 15, 2008. "SKD Designs Green Hard Drive for Fabrik" Dexigner
- Adams, Larry (June 1, 2007). "Excellence in Design: Clever Creations". Appliance Design
- Jabra Press Release. September 26, 2005. "Introducing the Next Generation of The World's Best-Selling Bluetooth Headset from Jabra"
- T-Line Blood Pressure Monitor Good Design 2005 Award Winners Archived 2013-08-22 at the Wayback Machine.
- iF Communication Design Award: Jobclock
- 2006 IDEA Winners: Silver. Time Empowerment Research- Stuart Karten Design
- IIT Institute of Design. Design Research Conference 2007: Speakers
- MDEA Award Winners 1998
- June, 2004. "100 Notable People" MD&DI
- People's Design Award. Zon Hearing Aid Wins 2008 People's Design Award
- Dexigner.com. Stuart Karten Design's Zon Hearing Aid Wins 2008 Cooper-Hewitt People's Design Award
- Gardner, Andrew. "OBSERVE: AN INSPIRED AND EMPOWERING HEARING DEVICE". www.cooperhewitt.org/. Cooper Hewitt. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- Kuang, Cliff (December 2009). "How Stuart Karten and Starkey Re-Invented the Hearing Aid". Fast Company
- "How Stuart Karten and Starkey Re-Invented the Hearing Aid". Fast Company. 2009-12-23. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
- Glausiusz, Josie. March 12, 2008. "Exhibition: Beauty meets utility at MoMA"
- Fermoso, Jose. September 17, 2008. "The Scariest Toy Concept Ever: The Epidermits Thing" Wired.com
- Silverberg, Michael. December 17, 2008. "Metropolis POV: Made Of Money" MetropolisMag.com
- Karten Design website
- Karten Design YouTube Channel
- Dear Stuart on FastCompany.com
- People's Design Award 2008
- BusinessWeek on ModeMapping
- BusinessWeek Q&A: Designer Stuart Karten
- Stuart Karten speaker bio- IIT Institute of Design, Design Research Conference
- Design is Transforming Business: IDSA Los Angeles Chapter