Dec 20th 2018

Hidden In Plain Sight


Inconspicuous. Perfectly integrated. Remarkably unremarkable.

There is something to be said for a space designed so well, or a process so well executed, that the average person doesn’t even know it is happening. As Win Hovens said, “Good design is in all the things you notice. Great design is in all the things you don’t.”

The same can be applied to acoustic treatments. While some concepts call for a focal point or key design element, others may prefer to keep sound control hidden in plain sight.

Bright green Wave Tiles intentionally draw attention as a focal point at Whitman-Walker Health

Avoid Unwanted Attention

For some designers, acoustics have always been an aesthetic bane. They may question whether it is even possible to mitigate unwanted sound without drawing unwanted attention. The good news, as Architectural Digest reported, is that we are currently seeing a new wave of game-changing acoustic products hitting the market.

Cleverly designed, EchoPanel products offer the versatility and flexibility to blend in with a myriad of textures and materials in any space.

Such is the case at King Tide Fish & Shell, a restaurant located within the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Richly stained woods, abundant texture, and an earthy color palette create a lodge-inspired aesthetic, however, hard surfaces are found throughout the restaurant, causing an echo nightmare.

Barcode Tiles blend into the decor and texture palette at King Tide Fish & Shell restaurant

The design team at GrizForm Design Architects needed to find a way to create an acoustic environment that found the perfect balance between vibrant and intimate without disrupting the flow of the space. As a result, they covered the façade of the bulkhead above the bar with Barcode Tiles, which serve as a modern and functional take on wood paneling of decades past. The varying widths and depths allowed the design team to creatively convey texture and materiality without sacrificing or distracting from the restaurant’s aesthetic.

Floor to Ceiling Flow

Ceilings are also notorious for being a difficult thing to disguise — think HVAC units and ugly air vents — which is where EchoPanel ceiling systems can play a role, all while still allowing other design elements to shine. The primary goal of a ceiling treatment is to absorb and diffuse sound in order to prevent reflections, reduce noise, and keep speech legible. Hanging systems like EchoStar+ can meticulously sculpt a room's sound while delicate origami-like lines can soften up the ceiling space.

This workspace shows how acoustic treatments can be an extension of the design without drawing too much attention to the ceiling

Eyesore No More

PET panels and products can also be customized in a way that disguises their functional purpose. Further proof that acoustic treatments don’t have to be an eyesore in the room!

Custom acoustic solutions can showcase playful innovation as seen at Rowayton Elementary School

For example, the design team tasked with transforming an outdated multipurpose room into a full-time cafeteria at Rowayton Elementary School, opted for a solution that not only helped with noise, but also enhanced the room’s aquatic theme. At first glance, it may not be apparent that the whale and tidal waves on the back wall are made from PET or that they serve such an important functional purpose—beyond the playfulness they bring to the cafeteria.

It can be challenging to make each space have good acoustic and visual profiles, but by using a combination of acoustic art and more blended design elements it is possible to make any space work well for all of its occupants.

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Kirei case studies mentioned in this article:

Learn more about how your acoustic treatment can be hidden in plain sight by contacting a Kirei service rep!

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