The ReMix headphones and the user experience surrounding them are designed to be desirable for those involved in the countercultural maker/DIY movement. We started from the idea of the mixtape: a personalized gift from one friend to another. Those gifting mixtapes and mix CDs in the past would often decorate the tape/CD and tracklist with drawings and messages, making a memorable gift that showed the gifter’s thought and care. Mixtapes and CDs might recall a moment in time, a special occasion, or the popular tunes from a given season. As poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw reflects, the mixtape is a “form of communication,” an arrangement “made just for you” that serves as a “unique meeting-point between two people – like a letter or a dance.”
While music platforms like Spotify do allow users to create playlists for each other, the experience feels rather faceless, with no room for users to truly customize or express personality except through the simple list of track names. To appeal to DIY aficionados, we conceptualized a music sharing experience with customization built in at every step, from the headphone design to the playlist’s music and visual layout. The ReMix experience aims to create a sense of nostalgia that recalls the DIY mixtape culture of past years while refreshing the process for the modern era and the maker movement.
The maker movement puts a high value on self-expression through physical and digital fabrication, but at the same time, the movement is trying to balance issues of sustainability and also promote an ethos of creation over consumerism. Therefore, we sought a headphone customization solution that would allow users to create a unique look while reusing a durable base product. Our headphones feature interchangeable plates with designs created by gifters. After receiving or purchasing one set of headphones, wearers can mix them up countless times by adding plates they design or receive from friends. The ReMix experience fuses physical and digital elements, reflecting the maker movement’s involvement in both of these forms of creation.
Users of the ReMix app first design a playlist, selecting songs from the ReMix library. Next, they create a plate design to go along with the playlist. This design might highlight themes of the music selected, express the personalities of designer and/or wearer, or commemorate a special occasion or time spent with a friend. The app’s Canva-like functionality allows even novice designers to put their own creative stamp on the plates, and more advanced designers may upload files from a program like Adobe Illustrator. Just as the maker movement has done, we aim to provide users with the tools to unlock their imagination.
The design of the plate can be incorporated into the visual display of the playlist that users see in the ReMix app, resulting in a cohesive visual experience. Once plate and playlist are complete, users can seamlessly upload the design and tracklist to the ReMix cloud. The combination of these two components echoes the traditional process of making a mixtape and illustrating the CD or cassette cover/tracklist.
ReMix is unique because of its personalized music-sharing process. Wanting to emulate the way people gave their friends mixtapes as gifts for birthdays or other special occasion, we made sure to include a physical component that the user could literally hand over to his or her giftee. Upon receiving the plates, the giftee opens the ReMix app and uses it to scan the QR code printed on the back of the plates. The code loads the beautifully designed playlist in the app, and the giftee can simply stick the plates onto the headphones, plug them into the phone, and play. This straightforward process ensures quick and easy access to the musical and visual experience designed specifically for the giftee by the gifter, with all actions taking place within the app for a seamless feel. At a higher price point, we also plan to offer a bluetooth-enabled option for the plates, further streamlining access to the playlist by allowing the giftee to skip the QR code step.
We hope ReMix brings our customer base back to the old-school DIY days of self-expression through making mixtapes and giving them to friends and family. Drawing on the maker movement’s blend of nostalgia for a more hands-on, artisan era and adoption of cutting-edge technologies, we wanted to preserve the sentimentality of mixtapes while also incorporating the advanced technology of our modern age.