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Roam Ropes Headphones: Reflecting on the Design Inspiration

Fluidity and motion are what we experience in real life. The best moments are split seconds in time when we careen aimlessly like tumbleweed, and suddenly realize, with stunning clarity, that you are going somewhere. Usually, for me, these moments come with a soundtrack. So my ability to quickly access music should be able to keep up with my journey.

roam-retouched copy

In 2013, Beats by Dre co-founder Steve Lamar approached frog with an intriguing proposition: create headphones that have universal appeal and classic cool. We wanted to design headphones from a technical standpoint that would sound great on the phone, that are easy to access via Bluetooth, and that are worn around your neck. We thought, “No one likes crumpled headphones at the bottom of their bag! The result is the newly launched Roam Ropes headphones.

As a designer, when approached with a wide-open design challenge, it’s often easiest to start by delving into my own experience, narrative, emotions, and dreams. For example, I’ve derived great personal growth and strength through travel and riding motorcycles. I’ve learned lessons about myself that have changed me forever. Some of the most beautiful moments of my life have occurred with headphones in my ears, riding my motorcycle in the Mojave Desert, blasting Slayer while the sun sets in my rearview mirrors. The thing is, when you’re traveling around, roaming wherever life takes you, the experience of listening to music needs to be tailored to this mobility. You aren’t sitting with a glass of wine on an easy chair in your living room with huge speakers. You’re moving around, following your heart, and finding yourself. So the act of listening to music needs to move with you, to be there with you in those perfect moments when you’re rocking out.

The Horizon Line

The idea of wanderlust and adventuring contributed to the name Roam. The vision focused on captured the sense of always moving forward and seeking new adventures, traveling towards the horizon line in life, and learning something about who you are in this world. A black leather jacket was a compelling metaphor for me, personally, when trying to wrap my mind around the concept. When you are on the road, every single piece of gear you have should be as minimal and functional as possible, yet also project an aura of style and taste. The black leather jacket encompasses all of those things mentioned: it’s classically cool and stylish, it protects you, and it’s always there for you. Roam headphones will be a part of your life and we wanted to take inspiration from objects that were timeless.

Lynda on Motorcycle

Above, frog Lynda Lucas on her motorcycle.

Uniting around these principles, San Francisco frog’s interdisciplinary team of mechanical engineers, industrial, and visual designers (thanks to Peter Michaelian, Francois Nguyen, Lucas Saule, Lynda Lucas, and Francois Dransart) translated this poetic narrative into a tangible product.

Headphones as Necklace

These principles fed into the idea of designing the form, Ropes, to mimic a necklace — a design that encompasses both minimal and progressive style and utility. As the project progressed, the concept solidified. We realized the form factor references something that’s very powerful: the necklace is your totem, your lucky charm, and your source of strength and freedom. These insights also fed into the design of the Roam logo — an abstract reference to a setting sun in the horizon, depicting a nostalgic nod to wanderlust, travel, optimistic motion forward. In all of these very specific ways we intentionally approached the design challenge of creating desirable utility, by using these powerful and classic metaphors to invoke a sense of freedom, mobility, and strength.

Lynda Lucas

Lynda Lucas is a Senior Visual Designer in frog's New York studio, an adjunct professor at Parsons, and editor of an artful magazine about women motorcyclists called La Motocyclette.​

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