The Good Sound of Quality
From the moment you pull the car door handle your brain knows whether you’re about to have a good experience or not. The feel of the latch opening, the sound of the handle as it releases, and most famously, the sound the car door makes as it closes as you get behind the wheel. Start the car, and a litany of feedback sounds coupled with the growl (or purr) of the engine follow a well thought-out sequential pattern in feedback, instruction, and experience. Car companies spend hours and big budgets on getting these sounds just right. It all contributes to the car’s brand, your driving experience, and ultimately whether or not you’ll buy their automobile.
Sounds enhance the feeling of quality
Not everyone is consciously “tuned in” to this level of detail, but our brains certainly are. Whether we realize it or not, the sounds of everyday life contribute to our continual assessment of products, spaces, and places. Sound effects our concentration level, our productivity, and our mood. It serves as a form of feedback for us, and also registers a like/dislike scaled response from us. Sound, as well as tactile cues, can mean the difference between loving a product or place, or leaving it behind. Ellen Byron, of the Wall Street Journal says
“The small sounds consumer products make—whether a snap, click, rustle or pop—can be memorable and deeply satisfying, often suggesting luxury, freshness, effectiveness or security.”
Incorporating sound into interior design
So how do designers, a visually oriented group for sure, incorporate this sense into their designs to maximize the good feedback and keep us coming back for more? Whether it’s a retail store, an office, or a restaurant, it is easy to leave the “sound” design up to the products and materials we put in them. Selecting materials and products based on functionality, cost, or visual aesthetics alone does just that. Unwanted noise in public and office space is well understood and remains the default for designing for sound. But what about The Good Sound?
In an economy of choice, it is easier than ever to bring good sound and tactile experience into the selection criteria for Interior Design.
Flooring for instance can be hard and noisy or soft and cushiony. Cork or carpet with thicker padding or foam rubber backing helps give that sense of luxury. Some of the new vinyl products, like those from Karndean’s Luxury Vinyl collection, take their inspiration directly from wood and stone around the globe, yet are much quieter and softer on the feet.
Choosing solid wood core interior doors with soft closing latches, and good hardware for an office can provide a quality feel, an easy to open experience and, in the long run, are worth the added cost for their contribution to sound privacy.
Mechanical and electronic equipment seems to be the last thought in pieces of the office puzzle. How the copier, coffee machine, and other office equipment sounds when running and any beeps or buzzes the equipment makes should be listened to before purchase, if at all possible. When choices are limited, placement of machines should be well thought out to minimize distraction while maximizing good sound.
Comfortable, quiet rollers on chairs or tables, and cabinets with soft-close doors and drawers give a modern, luxury feel with maximum layout flexibility at a minimal cost.
Paying attention to the ventilation system may seem like someone else’s job but the background noise of the blowers may be a good tool for creating the right background noise in the right places. Other white noise or sound masking options are available and can be piped in through integrated speaker systems. Music options such as “music for airports”, designed to help “de-stress”, or more upbeat tempos to promote activity can be found on music stations like Pandora.
Make a positive first impression
Incorporating good sound into your space adds to the positive impression you present to your clients and customers. But it can be tricky and may require the expertise of an experienced interior designer to get it just right. Work with a professional who understands how various materials and products interact and can orchestrate the sounds to perfectly enhance your brand experience.