Tag Archive: Dezeen

A new sound control product for offices: Soundsticks

Photo credit: Soundsticks by Offecct

By David M. Sykes, Vice Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Casja Carlson, writing for online architecture and design magazine, Dezeen, tells us about designer Andrea Ruggiero’s noise-reducing Soundsticks, which she says are a “free-standing alternative to acoustic panels, made from leftover materials for Swedish furniture manufacturer Offecct.” Carlson says that this new product has been lab-tested, but I couldn’t find any lab reports to verify the claims about reducing office noise. Nonetheless, it’s fascinating to see European designers actually tackling the office noise problem—it’s considered an important problem in the EU.

Basically, the most important way to reduce office noise is to add absorptive surface materials, starting with the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling is the most important surface, not the floor. But dividers—including acoustical curtains—can play an important role too.

What most architects and interior designers do not know is that it’s quite easy to calculate how much sound absorptive material to add, and where to add it. But they might need to hire an acoustics engineer to run those calculations for them. It’s definitely not a guessing game—it’s completely predictable. So a designer can actually consider a wide range of solutions that are available now, including Soundsticks, to get to a level of acoustical comfort that is suitable to the kind of work being done in an office space.

My point is this: There’s a growing range of options available to designers to achieve acoustical comfort, so there’s no excuse anymore for continuing to ignore the problem of noise in open offices. It’s not a mystery, it can be fixed. And people are more productive and happier in spaces where acoustical comfort has been consciously designed in.

David Sykes chairs several professional organizations in acoustical science: QCI Healthcare Acoustics Project, ANSI Committee S12-WG44, the Rothschild Foundation Task Force on Acoustics, and the FGI Acoustics Committee. He is lead author of “Sound & Vibration 2.0” (Springer, 2012), a contributor to the NAE’s “Technology for a Quieter America” and the GSA’s “Sound Matters,” and co-founded the Laboratory for Advanced Research in Acoustics at Rensselaer Polytech. A graduate of UC-Berkeley with advanced degrees from Cornell, he is a frequent organizer of professional conferences in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Ford designs noise-proof kennels for noise-hating dogs

Photo credit: Ford Europe

Ford has designed a noise-cancelling kennel aimed at easing the anxiety and fear dogs experience during fireworks displays. It’s attractive and no doubt achieves its goal, but it’s also an expensive piece of kit that will be out of reach for most dog owners.

So kudos to Ford for looking out for man’s best friend, but why don’t we protect all dogs by demanding quiet fireworks instead?

Imagine a quiet little spot at work

A cheap and easy option?   Photo credit: Phyllis Buchanan licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

where, you know, you can actually do your work. It does not exist, you exclaim.  Well, maybe not this moment, but soon? Dezeen tells us about furniture brand Vank’s Wall Boxes–soundproof pods that offer “private workspaces in open-plan offices.”

So what are they exactly?  The “wall boxes” are essentially sound-absorbing upholstered cubes with “high-quality insulated glass” doors that Vank claims “provide high isolation from such surroundings, and thus can serve as a space for temporary silencing, but also for small meetings or video conferences.” Click the link to see the various configurations.

The design is lovely, the construction looks first rate, and the wall boxes/pods are attractive, if in a somewhat goofy way.  At least they are an answer to the horror that is open-plan offices. But instead of coming up with expensive remedies for poorly thought out open-plan offices, why not design workspaces that provide quiet and privacy, two things most worker bees crave?