Designer Catchup Chris Bosse 4

Read: Designer Catchup: Chris Bosse

Date: July 14, 2015

Author: Dermot McGuire

Read: Designer Catchup: Leah Heiss

Date: July 14, 2015

Author: Dermot McGuire

With CUSP about to come a close on 15 August at QVMAG, we’ve set out to discover what our 12 designers have been investigating, creating, and experimenting with since CUSP first launched back in 2013.

We caught up with Melbourne-based artist and designer Leah Heiss to discover her latest projects, including award-winning medical technologies that are forging a new relationship between science and design.


Alongside Dr Elaine Saunders and Professor Peter Blamey, artist and designer Leah Heiss has created a revolutionary hearing aid that is not only increasing people’s quality of life – it’s won a prestigious Good Design Award.

Good Design Australia awarded the IHearYou the Inaugural Social Innovation award at this year’s awards.

Eliminating the need for specialised audiologist appointments, The IHearYou ‘Self-Fit’ Hearing System enables users to adjust their acoustic preferences via a smartphone app.

With over four million Australians suffering some form of hearing loss, Leah’s work in the wearable medical devices industry is set to remove crippling costs and stigma, and benefit many lives.

1 IHearYou Designer Catchup Leah Heiss

Therapeutic Object Design

In a bid to curb embarrassment and social stigma surrounding “unattractive” medical devices, Leah Heiss creates wearable medical jewellery, including hearing aids, biosignal sensing jewellery, and emergency pieces for times of crisis.

By combining visually stunning jewellery with medical technology, Leah designs devices that are not only a keepsake, but ones that have the power to keep those in need healthy.

Leah spoke about the incredible technology she uses in her work at CUSP’s Therapeutic Design event at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, on April 27.

3 Therapeutic Object Design Designer Catchup Leah Heiss

 The Future is Here

Heiss, who specialises in technology focused jewellery, says exhibiting her work is a critical part of her practice.

“They are the forum through which I user-test my projects and invite visitors to interact with work and provide feedback. They are also an important forum for discussing the social implications of my work.”

In the last 12 months, Melbourne-based Heiss has showcased her work in numerous high-profile exhibitions, including RMIT Design Hub’s The Future Is Here – a show that brought together designers and innovators, and stimulated discussion on the future of art, science and collaboration.

Check out other pics of the exhibition at the RMIT Design Hub’s website.

4 The Future is Here Designer Catchup Leah Heiss

Art & us: Art & Science

Heiss walks the line between artistic taste and technology, and specialises in combining art, design and science, to create advanced technology that not only looks great, but helps people too.

Last year, Leah was in conversation with artist Briony Barr at The Wheeler Centre, where they discussed the idea of art pushing the boundaries of science towards practical, new, and real-world discoveries.

You can watch the fascinating discussion on The Wheeler Centre’s website here:

6 Art and Us Designer Catchup Leah Heiss


Heiss spoke to ABC’s program Splash about her creative and collaborative process to develop wearable medical jewellery.

The segment, which aired last year, touched on Leah’s past projects – including jewellery and rings that eliminates the need for diabetes sufferers to inject insulin – and explored the designers excitement about the potential of micro and nano electronics transforming already existing pieces of jewellery or textiles into life-saving medial devises.

You can watch the segment on the Splash website here:!/media/1604084/

7 Splash Designer Catchups Leah Heiss

Melbourne-based artist and designer, Leah Heiss, offers a radical re-conceptualisation of the process of designing new medical technologies, arguing for an open, trans-disciplinary and collaborative relationship between science and design. The emotional experience of the user of medical technologies is of paramount importance to Heiss. Early in her research, Heiss discovered that many people opt out of wearing or using their medical devices (such as hearing aid technologies or medic jewellery) because they are perceived to be unattractive and come with a litany of social stigmas. By creating clinical medical devices as highly covetable design objects – albeit with better technical capacity than their predecessors – Heiss removes the signals of ‘disability’ and ‘illness’, situating the power of disclosure back into the hands of the individual.