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3rd mode

Design a solution to assist the 2 million, and counting, population of coworkers in communicating their availability to colleagues in their shared workspace, to diminish disruptions and maintain positive work relationships.

Key Problem

Coworking spaces’s most dissatisfactory elements are noise and distraction. Therefore, people tend to put a pair of headphones on.


However, to the colleagues around, they can’t tell if an individual is casually listening to music and happy to be interrupted, or not to be disturbed. The headphones create a barrier in communication.

Therefore the design opportunity was to transform communication between colleagues about their availability.


Coworking spaces are rapidly gaining popularity due to their flexible rental contracts - ideal in these uncertain times.
Using a hot desk service system, people occupy their space temporarily. With minimal items provided in the space and the inability to personalise, the challenge was to design a product that would fit seamlessly into this moving environment.

Parallel Products-01.png


Few competing devices already exist. Therefore, many parallel products were explored. From this exercise, I discovered products that tried to address multiple relevant aspects and critiqued them.

Out of the initial concepts ranging from desk lamps to shapeable chairs, the most suitable direction was a new headpiece that replaces the problem’s root. I also wanted a memorable user-product interaction to remember which mode is active, so I researched physical mechanisms for the indicator.

Final Outcome

The final design surpassed its competitors during concluding evaluations, and feedback from users was positive as they felt comforted and confident with the reduced distraction.

Pink PU Foam and ABS formed the aesthetic models using traditional methods, then spray painted and decaled to a high-quality finish. Finally, working models were 3D printed from PLA.

This project was exhibited at New Designers 2022 and has appeared on the Dezeen website.


I needed to delve deeper into the physical form of privacy. Therefore opening and closing mechanisms were explored through sketches and low-fidelity models.

The favoured design was a slot that could be closed entirely or reveal a hollow insert to reflect openness when available.

Design Tags:  Industrial  |  Research |  CAD  |  Prototyping   |  Model Making

Initial Sketches

After a round of hand sketching a headset to improve communication, user feedback suggested considering if the device could take another form, such as an accessory.


Retrofitting is viable as headphones are a personal choice and often a significant investment. Hence, users are more likely to buy an addition than a new pair.

Technical Design

Each component was altered to meet anthropometric data, making the product physically ergonomic for the target user group.

Specifications for injection moulding were then implemented considering the volume and expected value of the device.

A complete product was drawn in SolidWorks with accompanying technical drawings and BoM.




Personalisation Station

Choose your look

Made in Brunel (2022) Aesthetic Models. [fig.] From the library of Made in Brunel.

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