Leah Heiss (Designer)

Research output: Non-textual formDesign / ArchitectureResearch


Research Background
Responding to international discourse surrounding the empowerment of disabled communities, Leah Heiss questioned why medical devices are often aesthetically lacking and difficult to use. Wanting to destigmatise hearing aids, Heiss began probing how style and function could align to create a medical device that people wanted to wear, and which helped people to hear. Collaborating with Blamey Saunders Hears, they created the world’s first self-fit modular hearing aid.

Research Contribution
Taking inspiration from Museums Victoria mineralogy collection, Facett’s design minimises the stigma of hearing aids by making them look precious rather than medical. It functions differently too – its intuitive magnetic connector bypasses the need to change tiny batteries, a frustration for people with arthritic fingers or vision impairment. Heiss spent time with 25 hearing aid users to understand their experience of hearing loss. The project highlights Heiss’ commitment to human-centred design which brings together medical science, industrial design and has empathy and collaboration at its core.

Research Significance
• Funded by the Commonwealth Government's Accelerating Commercialisation Grant
• Design is registered with IP Australia, European Design Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office
• Museums Victoria and Museum of Arts and Sciences acquired the 3-year design process i.e. models, images, sketches
• Winner of 2018 Good Design Award (Australia's peak design industry award)
• Two Best in Class Good Design Awards (Product Design and Social Innovation); CSIRO Design Innovation Award; 3 Victorian State Government iAwards (Research & Development Project of the Year; Community Service Markets; and
Infrastructure & Platforms Innovation of the Year)
• Winner of 2018 Victorian Premier's Design Award (Product)
• Discussed widely in Australian mainstream print and televised media
• Included in Melbourne’s Pavilion at 2018 Hong Kong Business of Design Week, curated by The National Gallery of Victoria
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Vic, Australia
PublisherMuseums Victoria
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventAugmented Humans - Melbourne Museum, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 29 Jun 201829 Jun 2018

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