Nothing's Senior Industrial Designer Explains Why the Ear A Are Yellow

According to Nothing’s Senior Industrial Designer, Frank Lin, the new bright yellow Ear A earbuds draw inspiration from places you may not expect.

A hand holds a small transparent case with yellow wireless earbuds inside, against a blurred backgro...

Nothing’s new bright yellow Ear A wireless earbuds might come as a surprise to some, but anyone following the company’s exploits in gadget design knows that the tech startup is... nothing without new ideas.

According to Senior Industrial Designer Frank Lin, the decision to make the company's new Ear A so colorful wasn’t just made out of boredom, but out of confidence.

“We’re a startup so we’re quite new to the market,” Lin tells Inverse. “Initially, we wanted to not confuse our customers, which is why we stuck to black and white in the beginning... and now we feel like we’ve established a presence.”

Say Yellow to the Ear A

So what does confidence look like? Well, in Nothing’s case, it's (most noticeably) yellow. But it’s also more compact. While previous iterations of Nothing Ear — the Ear 1 and the Ear 2, for example — have mostly had rectangular cases, the Ear A takes a solid departure.

This time around, the Ear A gets a flatter, more oblong treatment. While I personally feel like the shape gives the Ear A case a lunchbox-like look (it’s also easy to liken them to Teenage Engineering’s Playdate handheld), according to Lin, the inspiration actually comes from a more adult frame of reference.

Yellow there.


“We were really drawn to manufacturing processes like vacuum forming and inflatable type things, but also pharmaceutical packaging,” says Lin, holding up a plastic tray that one might pop allergy meds from.

“It’s something that’s so disposable and ordinary, but we find them really interesting, like how it’s made from one sheet and the only areas that are raised are the ones that need to protect what’s inside.”

The type of pill packaging that inspired the Ear A.

Jochen Eckel/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Lin says the departure from a more rectangular case wasn’t just different for difference’s sake, either. The goal, according to him, was to “make the most compact product in [Nothing’s] audio lineup.” And on that front, I’d say that Nothing succeeded. I’ve been walking around with Ear A in my pocket for a couple of weeks now, and the Ear A’s charging lunchbox does the trick — it’s smooth and pleasing to the eye and slides inside your pocket with ease.

Though the color and case may be different than Nothing’s previous products, Lin also says that in some ways, pops of bold primary colors are already a part of the Nothing design language. On the now-discontinued Ear Stick, for example, a lipstick-inspired charging case was punctuated with an eye-catching pop of red at the end — another primary color, which according to Lin, wasn’t a mistake.

“When you think of color in its pure form, that’s when you get primary colors. That’s kind of how we landed with yellow,” Lin says. “It’s something that’s super fun and complements the geometry really well and it’s also nostalgic and futuristic.”

Color Correction

While yellow was meant to signify fun, Lin says there were challenges to making a case and wireless earbuds with more color. For one, Nothing’s design team decided that to make yellow work, everything had to be glossy (previous earbuds like the Ear 2 used a mixture of matte and shiny plastic).

For some, that switch to a more glossy plastic might be jarring — matte definitely catches the eye less, which could be a selling point depending on your preference for making a statement. But if you’re looking for wireless earbuds that draw attention, the Ear A will do the trick. In the sun, the buds are bright, bold, and... did I mention very, very bright?

Which yellow is more yellow?

Photograph by James Pero

“[Yellow] really pops out in the case, but when you’re wearing [the Ear A] it only shows a little bit outside your ear canal,” Lin says. “It shows a little bit of difference, but not super, super, out there.”

Whether the shift to a more colorful design will sway people to buy Nothing wireless earbuds remains to be seen — the Ear A go on sale soon, so we’ll have an answer soon enough. Either way, according to Lin, the Ear A is a product of Nothing’s constant refrain: Make tech fun.

“It’s time for us to have a little bit of fun and be a little expressive,” Lin says. “It felt like it was the right moment for it and the right product.”

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