Designing with Sound-Absorbing Textiles

04/29/2019 By Janelle Penny

Hard surfaces and exposed ceilings make beautiful workspaces. The problem: They also create noisy environments that bounce sound around and make it hard to focus or have conversations.

Snowsound is a line of versatile panels and textiles that absorbs wayward sound with a variable-density construction. This is modeled after the properties of freshly fallen snow. The panels and the fabric have areas with a denser composition or weave vs. a less dense one, inspired by snowfall’s layers and air gaps. The technology is consistent across each product, so choosing the right product for a project often comes down to aesthetic preference.

Flap Education Waiting Room Wall

“The first step is identifying how the user wishes to apply the panel,” explains Mike Dardashti, executive vice president, North America, for Snowsound USA. “Once you know whether you want to ceiling-suspend, wall-mount, freestand or desk-mount the product, you can narrow down the selection to the designs that do that best.”

See it in action:

1. Medtronic Office – Milan

Medtronic, a medical equipment manufacturer, uses a stunning minimalist design in its Milan office, but the hard surfaces constantly reflected distracting noise. Snowsound’s Oversize Ceiling and Mitesco Wall blended in with the clean lines of the space and added some extra color and texture to an otherwise blank white wall.

Mitesco Offices Open Work Space Wall

“Oversize Ceiling is the most simply designed product we have,” explains Dardashti. “It’s thin and the suspension aspect of it gives a floating feel to this application. They wanted something that didn’t take away from the architecture, but they needed something to absorb the sound. The wall product adds an extra design element into the space with the use of color, but it’s still following those very rectilinear, symmetrical lines that are consistent with the rest of the interior design.”

2. Convention Center – Spain

Large multipurpose spaces tend to echo, and this one at this Spanish convention center was no exception. This project had three objectives, Dardashti says: add design and color into a sterile-looking space, create a sense of definition specific to this area relative to other spaces in the building and improve the speech intelligibility of this room. The triple-pronged goal called for a multifaceted approach.

Read Acoustics 101: An Ongoing Series All About Sound-Absorbing

“The Flap Wings are suspended like birds at different heights, so they don’t look like your traditional acoustic treatment,” says Dardashti. “Then we’ve added some design and what looks like art for the walls via the use of Flap panels. For the third objective, which was to create a sense of definition over the space, we used freestanding Mitesco Screen Dividers.”

The space also uses vertical totems that feature Flap panels and a series of linked panels called Flap Chain.

3. Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology – Milan

The mathematics lab at Italy’s largest science and technology museum is a fitting place for Snowsound’s Fiber Textiles. The fabric is the first patented sound-absorbing textile and incorporates a unique weave composition that absorbs sound as it passes through, Dardashti says.

“To be chosen to be used in the mathematics lab, math is a very technical science and this is a very technically designed and engineered product,” he adds. “Snowsound as a product is science and technology in its essence.”

Velvet Fiber6 hanging in an office meeting room

The museum wanted visitors to be able to enjoy a conversation without disturbing others or having to strain to hear people talking, Dardashti explains. Fabrics typically serve as design elements rather than acoustical solutions, but by specifying acoustical textiles, the museum design achieved three important goals:

  • Achieving better acoustics in the lab
  • Increasing visual privacy from the glass into the room
  • Improving the look of the space

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