It’s easy to get caught up in all the tech advancements coming our way. This new generation of gadgets—sound accessories in particular—are considered a crucial part of our modern life and have become just as much a status symbol as they are a fashion statement. From ditching over-ear styles to the surge in Apple’s AirPods, it seems that simplicity and convenience have led to a spike in the headphone market. But we often forget that technology was created to enhance the human experience. Even though we no longer have to deal with unsightly wires dangling, these innovations can’t be purely mechanical. There has to be meaning behind them. Feelings, even. Forget just merging form and function, where’s the art? The emotion? The fashion?
It might seem odd that a wearable tech company is just as concerned with human nature and self expression as they are digital connectivity, but that’s just what Planet Beyond believes it takes when designing for the future. What started as an unlikely, albeit successful, partnership between a mathematician, architect, engineer and a computer programmer who hail from Harvard and MIT—Planet Beyond brings a high-fashion sensibility to today’s most popular accessory.
We believe that the future can be beautiful,” said Planet Beyond’s founder Lorin Gu. “That’s why we craft delicate, stunning ornaments that connect their wearer to the world. We believe in art that speaks. In breaking the barriers between science and design, we’ve created a space where personal expression becomes functional, where tech enlightens our spirits as well as our minds.”
Planet Beyond’s earpieces were designed to shift the way we interact with technology and the world around us, on par with other wearable tech offerings such as smart watches. Blurring the lines between fashion jewelry and a bluetooth earphone, the brand’s inaugural offerings feature a stereo-quality base made from silicone for comfort and a metal core reminiscent of a satellite dish. With individuality at the forefront, wearer’s have the option of gold, gunmetal or silver-colored earphones and interchangeable metal accessories that are sold separately. Yes, you can buy an accessory for your accessory. The ornaments themselves are modeled after what Gu imagines natural elements to look like in the future—think shooting stars, leaves and sun ray-inspired designs that follow along the curvature of the wearer’s ear.
It was Gu’s own mother who he cited as his greatest inspiration for Planet Beyond, describing her as an “avid lover of jewelry and beautiful things.” To his own credit, Gu’s personal interest in design led him to many custom collaborations with jewelry houses which inevitably got him thinking about what kind of spin he could put on his own projects. “It turned out that sustainability and technology were that spin I was looking for,” he added.
Futuristic in appearance, the earphones themselves actually begin with a million pounds of reclaimed scrap metal. While sustainability has historically been a problem for both the fashion and tech industries, Planet Beyond is aided by their sustainable practices. “I came across this old electronics factory through my finance career. And this emblem of the old economy was falling apart because the development of new technology products has made most of the smaller factories unable to catch up, and rendered them obsolete. Our current system of consumerism is making the abandonment of technology products as frequent as changing clothes.” Gu went on to revive the former electronics building to use as Planet Beyond’s hub, a place to create sustainable products and more importantly, jobs.
While Planet Beyond’s efforts in sustainability hope to have a real global impact, they’re also working to improve the lives of wearer’s on a smaller, more personal scale. Without ignoring one’s natural desire to express themselves, Planet Beyond endeavors to bring a bit of variety to the earphone market as well as challenge the current, more masculine aesthetic that larger companies continue to perpetuate when it comes to wearable tech.
“Technology and the human body are more intertwined than ever,” said Gu. “…The mission of the brand as well as the look of the products are meant to empower the individual.” Planet Beyond hopes their jewelry and future offerings will act as a vessel for promoting awareness surrounding generational concerns like sustainability and female empowerment.
Looking forward, Planet Beyond is currently in the developing phase of their second arrival of products. The theme this time will draw less from natural elements and instead offer a glimpse into the brand’s interpretation of the “architecture of the future.” Although earphones are the current focus, Gu mentioned they’re also only the beginning in terms of what Planet Beyond has in the works. The brand plans on rolling out other wearables such as bracelets and glasses, which I’m sure we can expect to embody a similar “Westworld” meets Maison Margiela style to them.