Most people are familiar with the typical fabric-wrapped wall panels and acoustical ceiling tiles that absorb sound and echo in office environments—and may also be familiar with the reverberant, unintelligible character of a room without these absorptive treatments. However, the same absorption can always be provided in less traditional forms, delivering world-class design that just happens to have acoustic benefit as well.
In search of this sort of innovation on a recent visit to Copenhagen, we stopped by the Dansk Design Center, a museum and gallery showcasing the best in Danish industrial, product, and graphic design. On display among the winners of the 2010/11 Danish Design Prize was a product called Clouds, produced by Kvadrat A/S and designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The product is a modular system of 2-D felt panels that are joined with rubber bands at the edges to form complex, striking 3-D surfaces and volumes. The resulting felt sculptures can be fixed to walls, hung from ceilings, or form room dividers on their own.
Acoustically, felt is an effective absorber of high-frequency sound, and by trapping substantial air spaces within or behind the overall surface, low- and mid-frequency absorption is possible as well. Products like this allow the acoustic treatment to form an attractive centerpiece to a space’s visual aesthetic, rather than blending into the background!