MAKE SOUND GREAT AGAIN: ACOUSTICPEARLS
BRAND STORY BY SIMON KEANE-COWELL
Acoustic-solutions brand acousticpearls offers more than just off-the-shelf, noise-cancelling products. With its expert consultancy, it’s on a mission to make your ears happy.
This is what sound looks like: acousticpearls’ acoustic garden at this year’s Orgatec, developed by Swiss designer This Weber in collaboration with acoustics experts, encouraged visitors to rediscover the properties and pleasure of managed sound.
Maybe it’s to do with my age. OK. It probably is. But, as we’re all part of an ageing population, I feel I’m not alone in this. The world is getting louder. And it’s becoming a real issue. Noise pollution is not simply a trigger for mild annoyance, it can, as recent research has shown, be the cause of serious short- and long-term health issues.
According to the European Union, around 20% of the people living in EU countries are exposed to noise levels that exceed 65 decibels during the day and more than 30% have to live with levels higher than 55 decibels at night. For comparative purposes, a typical conversation measures about 60 decibels; a pneumatic drill would be 90. So, while it’s not like having a jackhammer in your bedroom, it’s certainly not the silence we need and deserve.
The workplace, too, as far too many of us know too well, can be a challenging environment, acoustically speaking. Often an afterthought in interior-architectural projects, sound management, or the lack thereof, has a real and negative impact on communication, performance, behaviour and mental and physical well-being. It’s a zero-sum game. Think about it. The louder it gets, the louder you have to be to make yourself heard and understood. The central nervous system is affected, hormones are produced, stress levels rise…
Design follows acoustics
German acoustic-design specialists acousticpearls have earned their stripes. In the almost 10 years since they were founded, the Bremen-based company has secured its position in the market as a vanguard provider of quality sound-management solutions. While it’s almost de rigeur these days for design manufacturers to augment their collections with products that attempt to tackle aurally unruly spaces, managing sound through design is acousticpearls stock-in-trade – in terms not only of finished products but also in terms of expert know-how.
“Design follows acoustics” is the brand’s latest marketing slogan, a neat bit of modernist wordplay that underscores the fact that acousticpearls is in the business of consultancy as much as it is in that of selling products. Given that no two end-client spaces are the same, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to addressing the acoustic particularity of spaces. “Every room is different,” explains company CEO Clemens Lünig. “The composition of acoustic needs is highly complex, as sounds emanate from a wide variety of sources, and as the result of different room and workplace concepts.”
Architects who use acousticpearls know that what they’re getting is a fully customised approach. Project partners rather than mere suppliers. Headed up by Lünig, the company analyses the acoustic performance of offices and other locations, taking into account a raft of factors: geometry, surfaces and texture, usage type, occupancy level, as well as, of course, where sound is being generated. Only once this is complete can a scientifically underpinned acoustic-improvement solution be developed, using the brand’s comprehensive range of premium wall, ceiling, desktop and floor panels.
This is what sound looks like
For visitors to acousticpearls’ permanent product exhibition at Design Post in Cologne during the latest edition of Orgatec last month, a special outdoor installation next to the venue set out to communicate the remarkable phenomenon of sound when it’s managed properly. Via a visually intriguing, highly architectural set – an acoustic garden of sorts – developed by Swiss designer This Weber in collaboration with acoustics expert Dr Christian Nocke of the Akustikbüro Oldenburg and acousticpearls’ in-house specialists, visitors were invited to think about the properties of sound as the very authors of it, and how it can be cradled, conveyed and amplified via the shaping of space.
Acoustic parabolic mirrors and a whispering arch – part of the company’s acoustic garden at Design Post during Orgatec – demonstrated the science of sound to visitors, while signposting the brand’s expertise
A set of acoustic parabolic mirrors allowed participants to speak to each other in a quiet voice over a 20-metre distance by packaging up their sound waves, transmitting them and amplifying them at the other end. Meanwhile, a whispering arch demonstrated how sound waves are carried along the curve of a hemisphere, even when the radius is large. Think of such whispering galleries as that found in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.
“When I started my research,” explains Weber, “the first pictures I found were of military acoustic mirrors of the interwar period that can be found along England’s southern coastline, used as early-warning devices by the country’s air-defence forces. So I proposed a travelling, outdoor exhibition space that showed in an engaging way how sonic waves find their way.” And find their way they did, with participants, in spite of the, at times, inclement weather, only too happy to donate them. Special raincoats were on hand, naturally.
Fun follows acoustics, too.