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Stuart Karten Design's Zon Hearing Aid Wins 2008 Cooper-Hewitt People's Design Award

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The Zon hearing aid, designed by Stuart Karten Design for Starkey, has been honored with the 2008 People's Design Award, presented by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

At the Cooper-Hewitt's 9th annual National Design Awards gala in New York on Oct. 23, Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo's "Top Chef," announced the winning design and presented the award to Stuart Karten.

"In developing Zon, we sought to move the perception of the hearing aid from a medical appliance to an object that would help overcome the stigma associated with hearing loss," said Karten. "This award from the public is a tremendous validation that Zon has achieved its goal."

Zon's dynamic, sculptural shape transforms the standard beige hearing aid into a beautiful object. Tailored with a level of detail befitting a product of a much larger scale, the faceted, 1.3-inch-long Zon possesses a jewel-like quality enhanced by high-gloss metallic paint. When placed behind the ear, Zon becomes virtually invisible with a palette of six understated colors that complement hair and skin tones. Its form embraces the body's geometry for a secure fit void of "hot spots" that could cause discomfort.

"I'm delighted that the public has chosen to honor an object that marries design with technological innovation. The success of Zon demonstrates that good design can indeed have a transformative impact on our everyday lives," said Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson.

Zon competed with 276 nominees on the People's Design Award web site, where users could nominate and vote for their favorite designs. Nominees ranged from everyday objects (bikes and water bottle) and design classics (the Eames Lounge Chair and the Adidas Samba shoe) to architecture (the Beijing National Stadium and the Hearst Tower) and examples of socially responsible design (the PlayPump Water System and the Make It Right Project). The site received thousands of votes and more than 119,000 visitors between Sept. 22 and Oct. 21, 2008.

The People's Design Award is part of Cooper-Hewitt's largest public education initiative, National Design Week, Oct. 19-25, 2008. For the past three years, National Design Week has drawn attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life through outreach to schoolteachers and students and partnerships with design organizations across the country.

About Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum:

The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications. Founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt -- granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper -- as part of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the museum has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1967.

About Starkey Laboratories:

Privately held Starkey Laboratories, Inc. is a hearing technology company headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn. The company is recognized for its innovative design, development and distribution of comprehensive digital hearing systems. Founded in 1967, Starkey currently has more than 4,000 employees and facilities in 25 countries. Starkey's Zon was released at the American Academy of Audiology trade show in Charlotte, N.C., in April 2008 and rapidly became Starkey's most successful product release in the company's 40-year history. It is available to patients through hearing professionals worldwide.

About Stuart Karten Design:

For nearly 25 years, Stuart Karten Design (SKD) has been a strategic partner to companies seeking to differentiate their products through creativity and design. SKD's design is grounded in a user-centered philosophy aimed at developing products that excite their target customers and reflect empathy for user needs. Connecting creativity with commerce, SKD designs products that serve as brand ambassadors for clients, leading to greater market share and increased profit.

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