Like a not so silent shadow following us at every turn of our lives and in every space at home, sound vibrates, inevitably engulfing us. From the music we listen to at the office to sounds of the city, nearly every part of the day is punctuated by a particular soundtrack. But after the lockdown and various security measures employed to address the global health emergency, our sensorial sensibility is changing. Months of silence and solitude have led us to rediscover the value of sociality and, consequently, sound. In a historic moment marked by new proxemics capable of revolutionizing our modes of communication, transforming gestures and relationships, sound design and acoustic isolation have made their way back into our living rooms and domestic spaces. So what role do designers play in all of this? A crucial one according to sound artist, designer, and electronic musician Yuri Suzuki.
As the expert confirms in an interview with Dezeen, “The importance and responsibility of sound designers will be increased, I think.” Just as it was for space and light, sound has also become an architectural element, making it impossible to ignore the role sound and music play in the places we inhabit. At home, just like the office and, especially in social spaces, the chatter and buzz provoked by technology risks transforming spaces into a giant chaotic rumble. The science studying sounds, their properties, and their mechanisms of production, propagation, and reception then take to interior design. “Sound is always around you and the role of the sound designer is to help make the soundscape better and more comfortable,” continues Suzuki, who only months ago launched a crowdsourcing project in collaboration with the Dallas Museum of Art with the intent to archive sounds of the pandemic. Entitled Sound of the Earth: The Pandemic Chapter, it’s a digital platform gathering sounds collected around the world during a period of isolation, mapping a moment of global empathy through a boundless mode of communication: sound.
Sounds take form and body then, building a relationship with the physical objects they surround and becoming a tangible element. Like something to hold, touch, move, and direct, the collection of vibrations that perk up our ears becomes new ground for experimentation. From the classical and sinuous lines we imagine swirling in the air with a melodic song to solutions conceived to minimize noise in closed spaces, design has the power to amplify or cancel the expressive potential of sound. With this in mind, our Design Favorites of the Week is a symphony of furnishings recounting the harmonious magic of sound.
Arper - Parentesit
Parentesit is a collection of modular soundproof panels designed by Lievore Altherr Molina for Arper, capable of softening sounds. Decorative and functional, the wall modules are available in circular, square, oval and freestanding versions: used singularly, they express a graphic character in geometric forms; placed together, they piece together rhythmic and harmonious compositions.
Martinelli Luce - Hush
Massimo Farinatti has designed Luce Hush for Martinelli, a unique system of lights combining functionality and design: equipped with the Snowsound technology of Caimi Brevetti, the piece pairs a sound-absorbing structure to the light source in a material that selectively assimilates to the acoustic waves at different frequencies. Ideal for offices and other public spaces, the project is articulated in both a suspension and wall version.
Lee Broom - Maestro Chair
The new Maestro Chair from Lee Broom emphasizes the expressive value of music. The designer has conceived of a chair with sinuous and soft lines inspired by the forms and symphonic movement of an orchestra (the New York Philharmonic in particular): a structure in curved steel references the undulating coils and windings of the musical instruments, especially the brass section of a classical ensemble.
Baleri Italia - Cartoons
The Cartoons separé from Baleri Italia defines the audio landscape of an environment, cancelling or welcoming sound. Designed by Luigi Baroli, winner of the Compass d’Oro in 1994, it’s the perfect solution to isolate and minimize our sensorial perceptions. Positioned in the bedroom or to punctuate the living area and kitchen, it can be personalized with any vectorial graphic, image, or color.
Artemide - Flexia
“Flexia develops through the visual space in a game of optical perceptions: when switched off, the lamp is ethereal and invisible; on, it becomes material, transforming into a solid made of light.” Inspired by the Japanese art of origami, the new modular lamp designed by Mario Cucinella for Artemide is more than a mere source of light. The acoustic panel, realized with recycled fibers (the external fabric is 100% sourced from PET bottles, while the internal panel is produced with scrap materials), controls the reverb, absorbing sound waves reflected in the atmosphere. Visual and acoustic comfort are integrated perfectly.
Bang & Olufsen - Beogram 4000c
Speaking of music, the record player created by Jacob Jensen returns in a limited edition version. Originally launched in the ‘70s by Bang & Olufsen: Beogram 4000c Recreated Limited Edition is the first product from Classics, the company’s new project to revive and reinvent classic pieces from its historic catalog. Born from the integration between a series of components recovered from old original devices and a set of new pieces, the re-editions are a masterful mix between vintage, amarcord, and technology.
Glamora - Kama
GlamAcoustic — Acoustic Wallcoverings is a particular vinyl cladding with sound absorbing qualities from Glamora. Applicable to all the company’s wallpapers (like Kama, pictured), it responds to the needs for sound reflection, creating the correct resonance in a given environment, while increasing the purity of audible frequencies. Thanks to the wall’s capacity for absorbing sound, it significantly reduces the noise coming from beyond and limits those projected outward.
Caimi Brevetti - Clasp
Improving on acoustics by exploiting textiles, this solution comes from Caimi Brevetti. Clasp, conceived by design studio A+B Dominoni Quaquaro, is a curtain that slides across a simple steel rod, falling freely to the ground or standing more rigid like a panel. The Lombard company has patented the Snowsound Fiber (pictured in opening), a technology that employs the properties of a series of intrinsically fireproof and interconnected acoustic polyester fibers.