Why we Need to Design with our Ears
The long term effects of unwanted noise and lack of privacy in the office and in public spaces is well documented – lower productivity for employees, less accuracy in work product, employees being less helpful, lower employee retention, and more likelihood that customers will be unhappy with their total interaction. In general, noise affects our social and psychological behavior.
In the age of big open spaces for buildings, shared workspaces, and open home designs, the issue of sound often falls to the Interior designer – after the fact. By observing and documenting people’s activities in their daily lives, the desired sound levels and types of sounds can be managed and incorporated into the overall design plan. This research can be as critical as any space planning. Solutions, in the form of products and technical data are more sophisticated, and beautiful than ever.
Recently attending the NeoCon Show in Chicago, I found several new solutions that offered great aesthetics as well as proven sound dampening qualities. One in particular was a felt product from Buzzi Space. Their wall hangings, with a variety of cut out designs, free standing soft sculptures, hanging room dividers, and even lamp shades offer to soak up sound with a whimsical air. In addition to technical products, I like to add antique fabrics on wooden hangers as wall hangings, rugs to define seating areas, and soft drapes or shades to help absorb sound in large, hard surface areas. Not only do these materials work on sound, they add elements of comfort and ease to rooms of stone and ceramic.
Collaborating with architects and builders, the Interior Designer, as a master of observation of people’s daily lives can influence how sound is managed and planned. Integrating sound planning as one of the components of ambiance into the final experience will create a space that is music to our ears.
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