Healthy living is currently a mega-trend, so acoustics are a top priority when designing home and workplace interiors that promote healthy living. Long reverberation times, especially in sparsely furnished rooms with hard, smooth surfaces such as glass, ceramics and exposed concrete, can make these spaces feel uncomfortably loud. Most people find poor acoustics unpleasant, and long-term exposure to these conditions can lead to health problems. However, it doesn’t take much to make these spaces feel significantly more comfortable. Unsuitable acoustics can lead to frayed nerves. This is true of making phone calls in an open-plan office, but also applies to the home environment, when we are entertaining friends or when children are playing. In these situations, the reverberation time needs to be shortened.
Soft, textured materials dissipate the noise
To make spaces feel more liveable and improve our productivity levels, we can use furniture and furnishings that have soft, textured materials and surfaces that minimise background noise. These materials simply absorb the sound waves. Retailers offer a wide range of effective solutions to acoustic problems. Special carpets, such as Galaxy 706 by Object Carpet or floor coverings made of fluffy sheep wool minimise the noise of footsteps and can significantly improve a room’s acoustics. Other products that reduce noise levels include felt lamps, heavy curtains and wallpapers with acoustic properties, such as Glamacoustic by Glamora. Any cushions, houseplants or furniture with textile upholstery will also have a positive effect that makes the environment feel more peaceful. Experienced interior designers will not only consider the acoustic effect of the furnishings, but also of the positioning of objects within the space. As a general rule, a combination of upholstered furniture, textiles, open cabinetry and modular shelving should be used, and these elements should be distributed throughout the room. This will dissipate the noise and prevent unpleasant echo effects. It is particularly helpful to avoid placing all of the furniture along the walls.
Products with acoustic properties – for stillness and well-being
The use of special sound-absorbing products ensures that sound insulation does not result in the room feeling muffled. These products include acoustic panels, room dividers and ceiling elements –
for example, those made by the British manufacturer ezoBord or by HEY-SIGN, a business that specialises in felt products. Parallel walls that both have smooth surfaces should also be avoided. This is because they allow the sound to reverberate back and forth freely, which can be avoided by adding decorative acoustic elements made of felt, or original wall art elements, such as ‘vitAcoustic’ by Vital-Office, which features real moss. To achieve the most comprehensive improvement, it is advisable to use a combination of soundproofing measures and materials. Having an interesting mix of textures also makes rooms feel cosier.
Quiet electronic appliances reduce noise levels
Electronic devices are often overlooked when designing quiet spaces. Electronic devices like quiet vacuum cleaners, for example, will also help make the surroundings more conducive to good health. The German ecolabel ‘Blue Angel’ also includes quiet operation in its criteria for testing household appliances. Acoustics can also be improved by placing anti-vibration mats beneath washing machines or speakers. Noise from outside can be minimised by installing external shutters on the windows or hanging sound-reducing curtains. In the kitchen sector, there are product designers and manufacturers who are taking acoustics into consideration. They minimise unpleasant sounds by introducing silent, soft-close doors for cupboards and built-in units.
Most people have to endure environments that are too noisy, but this can be prevented by taking simple acoustic measures. Initially, acoustic solutions focussed on office environments and the catering industry. Now, however, products for achieving healthier acoustics in the domestic setting are also very popular. Seeing as the market already exists, the interior design sector should respond to this trend by tailoring acoustic products even more towards the domestic sphere.