Nothing’s Concept One Earbud Is Simple and Refreshingly Retro

Nothing’s Concept One Earbud Is Simple and Refreshingly Retro
Image: Nothing

Nothing isn’t expected to have its first product ready for sale until later this winter, but today the company is giving people a peek at what its future gadgets might look like with the Concept One wireless earbuds.

Featuring a minimalist design using transparent plastic and a shape Nothing founder Carl Pei says was inspired by a tobacco pipe his grandmother owned, the Concept One certainly doesn’t look like any other earbuds currently on the market.

In a new blog posted today, Pei explained the thought process behind product design at Nothing, saying the company wants to create “technology that empowers us to be more human” centered around a handful of core design principles: weightless, effortless, and timeless.

Pei says the aspect of weightlessness is embodied by the use of “raw tech” and peeling away superficial things like surface branding. However, I have to point out that even though it’s located under a layer of transparent plastic, Nothing’s Concept One still has some visible branding. That said, because the branding technically isn’t on the surface of the device, I suppose it doesn’t really clash with the company’s principles.

As for being effortless, Nothing says it hopes to create intuitive gadgets while adhering to the mantra of form following function, with a primary focus on simplicity and ease of use. However, Nothing’s final design principle seems like it’s up for a bit of interpretation. While the company is going for a sense of timelessness, I find that like a lot of other devices from Teenage Engineering (who has partnered with Nothing to oversee product design), the Concept One has more of an ‘80s retro-tech vibe, but updated with a bit of 21st-century minimalism.

Image: Nothing Image: Nothing

That’s because while the Concept One has more rounded edges, I see a lot of similarities between it and the original Sony Walkman, right down to using almost the exact same colour palette as the classic grey Walkman. That said, while it might not fit everyone’s definition of timelessness, the Concept One is still a refreshing departure from other earbuds available today. It’s not clear how much of the Concept One’s design will be incorporated into Nothing’s final consumer-ready earbuds but based on this early look, Nothing’s styling is off to a good start.