Skip to main content
Design Products (MA)

William Hawken

William Hawken is a British Product Designer whose deep-rooted passion is technology, specifically in how it can enable unique experiences and aid us in fulfilling our passions and hobbies.

His journey into Product Design is an unconventional one. He studied Computer Science at an undergraduate level, later becoming a Software Engineer at IBM. He later progressed to a role that was split between Software Development and UI/UX Design, where he would create prototypes for a variety of clients, showcasing the latest innovative and industry-leading technologies.

His transition into Product Design was born out of a desire to improve upon his many frustrations with current consumer technology. He enjoys the conveniences that modern-day technologies afford, but is disappointed in how wasteful the industry is.


Awards Client Technical Achievement Award 2019 (IBM).

Client Technical Achievement Award 2020 (IBM)

The designer William Hawken

Our relationship with technology is broken. Something breaks; we don't fix it. A new shiny gadget comes out, and we toss out the old one.

Unsurprisingly, electronic waste (E-waste) is a global crisis and has a devasting impact on the environment and for all those who inhabit it. This issue is also very close to home, with the UK generating the second-largest amount of E-waste per capita in the world.

Consumer electronics are a large contributor to E-waste. These products include everything from smartphones, Airpods (one of the worst contributors), cameras, and more.

My particular project is around wireless speakers. As an audiophile, this is a product category that has consistently frustrated me as wireless speakers are often very difficult to repair, impossible to upgrade, and usully aren't very customisable. My learnings and principles from this project can however be extended to a broad range of consumer electronics.

I have named the project ETC, to indicate that the story of a product is a continuous process, that the life cycle of technology can repeatedly evolve and adapt. The relevance and functionality of an object will go on, and if designed correctly and responsibly, our consumer electronics should last a lifetime.

The two concepts at play here are emotional durability and modular design. Both concepts aim to keep the products in consumers' hands for as long as possible. This is achieved through modularity, which separates the responsibilities of a product into isolated modules. If something goes wrong, the consumer can repair or replace the module, instead of the whole device. Emotional durability provides a means to keep a product desirable past the 'honeymoon' phase. I achieve this through deep customisation options, as well as the versatility of use and interchangeable external modules, which can both provide additional functionality or new ways to interact with the speaker.

A works like prototype speaker outside.
ETC. Works Like
A speaker on a shelf
A speaker outside
ETC. Modular Speaker placed horizontally.
A speaker placed vertically outside
ETC. Modular Speaker placed vertically.
Modules that go inside of the amplifier
A speaker outside
Speaker on a tripo
UI App design
Sustainability information for each of the modules
App screenshot