Listen to music in sustainable style with 'microbe-grown’ headphones

Korvaa headset by Finnish design house Aivan
Korvaa headset by Finnish design house Aivan Copyright Aivan
By Maeve Campbell
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The Koorva headset by Finnish design house Aivan is out to change the future of sustainable electronics.


If, like us, you are always searching for the most sustainable ways to adapt your lifestyle to make it more eco-friendly, you’re sure to be intrigued by this new sustainable invention. We’re up to scratch with sustainable fashion, beauty launches and sustainable travel alternatives, but one thing that never crossed our minds was electronics.

Think about it, technology is constantly advancing, with phones and laptops being replaced by their upgrades on a yearly basis – and where do the old models go? Landfill, that’s where. In fact, obsolete electronics produce a considerable amount of toxic waste and will continue to do so for as long as we improve and update technology at such a speedy rate.

Introducing…the new sustainable headphones, The Korvaa headset

Finnish design house Aivan has attempted to create a new pair of sustainable headphones, using versatile substances that originate from nature. This innovative headset is made from fungus and bioplastics, amongst other naturally derived materials.

The Korvaa headsetAivan

The primary structure of the headphones is 3D-printed and uses a bioplastic created as a byproduct of yeast-processing lactic acid. Then, the crown and cup shell of the headphones is made from a polylactic acid polymer, which is strong yet flexible enough to be used for this purpose. We then come to the padded earpieces, which are made from a protein called hydrophobin that is similar to artificial foam in texture. This is produced by a fungus and reinforced by with plant cellulose. The earpieces are then covered with mycelium, a leathery, flexible material deriving from fungus. Finally, there is a delicate mesh on top, created by the process of spinning out synthetic spider silk.

The Korvaa headset deconstructedAivan

Do the headphones actually work?

At present, these headphones are at the beginning stages of development, meaning they are just a prototype for now and don’t work in practice. The point of the prototype was to show a future for sustainably made electronics and prove that you can create models out of completely biodegradable materials. The aim was not to create a fully functionable product as of yet, as this is a relatively new idea.

Thomas Tallqvist, one of the designers, told Dezeen:

“This was certainly only a surface scratch into where biology-engineered materials are going, and what we can do with them in the future.”

Materials used in the Korvaa headsetAivan

The revolutionary headphones will likely be on display in Finland’s design shows later this year, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked for the up-and-coming development of this exciting project.

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