Design Creative Of The Week: Nicola Hume [Visual Communication]

Design Creative Of The Week: Nicola Hume [Visual Communication]

The hottest new talent of the week brought to you by PSFK x Arts Thread. This week a young designer creating playful interfaces inspired by real people and cultural issues.

Dory Carr-Harris, PSFK
  • 16 august 2012

Listen Here, Nicola Hume

PSFK’s creative of the week, chosen from ARTS THREAD online portfolios, is Nicola Hume. Nicola graduated from the University of Dundee and her work focuses on combining new technology with considered design, sustainability and physical internet applications.

Why we like Nicola’s work: we like Nicola’s use of technology to create experiences designed with a very practical and human touch.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and inspirations:

I aim to make products that work technically, socially and uniquely. From research through to creation I work closely with users to create designs inspired by real people and cultural issues, that provoke thought, change the way we interact with objects and enrich our daily lives. I enjoy combining new digital technology with physical interactions to create playful and intuitive user experiences. Some of my recent projects have focused on social and environmental issues such as energy usage, cultural diversity, globalisation and product obsolescence.

“Listen Here” was my final year honours project. It is a service that connects tourists with locals, giving them a more genuine and culturally rich travel experience. It enables locals to introduce their favourite places to visitors by sharing live sounds from around the city.

Currently, globalisation is spreading the same media, products and lifestyles worldwide. Motivated by a desire to combat this trend, I created Listen Here with the aim of promoting cultural diversity and local traditions. Listen Here lets travellers see more than the typical commercial tourist attractions. It entices them to stray from the beaten track and not only learn about, but participate in real, local life. Listen Here is a chance for tourists to escape the repetitiveness of travel books, websites and tour operators that are often financially motivated and find new experiences from people who know the city best.

A tangible and engaging map in the city centre is the focal point of the service. Locals leave microphones that transmit ambient sounds in their favourite places before marking them on the map. Visitors are then able to “listen in” to these places, gaining a sense of the atmosphere before choosing where to visit. By using sound alone to portray the atmosphere, Listen Here creates a sense of mystery and encourages exploration.

Listen Here, Nicola Hume

The map has been designed to catch people’s attention and prompt them to look closer. The features are laser cut in different colours and materials giving depth and texture. To listen to places, users move a stethoscope shaped hand piece over markers on the map. Embedded RFID technology enables a live sound feed from the matching microphone to then be played. The microphones are tough, being made from perspex and aluminium. A lock is incorporated in each one to secure them in place. The stand is crafted from welded sheet aluminium.

Intended to be installed in cities worldwide, Listen Here lets you benefit from local knowledge and find hidden gems wherever you travel.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working with a start up design company in London, looking at shopping experiences and how they can be improved to encourage people to keep shopping on the high street rather than online.

How can people get in contact with you? What work are you looking for?

Get in contact with me via my website: or send me an email: I’m looking to get as much experience as possible working with design companies or individuals around the world who are interested in combining new technology with great design, sustainability and physical internet applications.

Nicola Hume


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