Dec 7th 2020

Key Insights from Acoustics and Art: Designing for Sound, Space, and Sight

John Stein

How do acoustics play into experiential graphic design? How does acoustic solution innovation help designers address both? These are just a few of the questions we posed to leading designers during Kirei’s Acoustics and Art: Designing for Sound, Space and Sight Virtual Panel Discussion.

The virtual event featured a panel of renowned designers from Europe and the U.S., recently tasked with monolith projects like Google’s headquarters campus, acclaimed art museums, and many more. Their insights gave us both inspiration and a renewed appreciation for our acoustics collection, AKUART.

Nov2020 Panelists Blog Intro

Image Source: Confidential Tech Block, Annelle Stotz

We’ve recapped our top three takeaways along with a deeper dive below. If you want to hear the full event recording, see the link at the end of this article.

  1. Experiential graphic design needs to be integrated early in the design process.
  2. Experiential graphic design means different things to different people – there’s still a fair amount of education that needs to take place.
  3. Creating an engaging graphical experience is best accomplished through co-creation with your client.

Featured Panelists

Our virtual event was a collaboration of insights from Annelle Stotz, SEGD Board of Directors and Brand Designer at Gensler, Abby Le Marchand, Senior Associate & Senior Designer at HLW, and Mads Quistgaard CEO & Design Director at Urgent.Agency. The event was moderated by Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-Chief at Bellow Press (Business of Furniture, Workplaces Magazine).

We encourage you to follow them and us on social media to stay inspired, connected and informed on future virtual events. We have provided more details on the panelists below.

Nov2020 Panelists Blog Headshots 2

Image Source: Left to Right: Annelle, Mads, Rob, Abby

Virtual Event Breakdown

At what point in the process do you start thinking about approaching and incorporating experiential graphic design (EGD)? How do you view its importance?

Abby: From the beginning, really. There are a few things that are important, the first being intentionality — being purposeful with both the design and the information that must be conveyed. You have to have consideration for what role it’s actually playing in the larger story and concept.

Kirei Insight: Design solutions that encourage early-stage integrated thinking are essential to an elegant outcome. At Kirei, our team aims to innovate acoustic solution products that address design needs in a unique way and push the boundaries of what has been deemed ‘status quo’ in the industry.

Do you find clients are requesting experiential graphic design? Do they have a desire to create connection between the user and a space, or is this something you have to educate them on more?

Annelle: Experiential graphic design means different things to different people, but I think generally there’s still a fair amount of education that needs to take place. Some clients are very comfortable with and value building brand experiences, and others don’t connect with that terminology at all.

Tech has definitely helped drive that perspective — Google started it, with their wild interiors and interior experiences. They pushed every industry to reconsider how they recruit and retain talent, and how design can enable that. We’re now seeing lifestyle brands, retail, and many others wanting to enhance their experiences.

Nov2020 Panelists Blog Google

Image Source: Google Images, Bjarke Ingels Group + Heatherwick Studio, Abby Le Marchand

Mads: Every client is different. The basic notion of wayfinding and graphics was once one of neutrality. Now, people expect more — they want to have an interactive experience or encounter something unexpected.

How do you find balance between the practical and the aesthetic?

Annelle: It’s really about having a multi-disciplinary team that can approach all aspects of it — some are thinking about the volume, the space, the flow of everything.

“Designers are thinking about how the space is going to be used, and where you can create the most impact, how you can accentuate the function of the space, or the experiences you want visitors to have.”
- Annelle
Nov2020 Panelists Blog Google2

Image Source: Google Images, Bjarke Ingels Group + Heatherwick Studio, Abby Le Marchand

There’s an inherent functionality component, while activating engagement. A lot of times, we are thinking of how to use our creative license to push the boundaries of materiality.

How do you approach color in the context of experiential graphic design?

“Color speaks to the heart. It’s the most immediate tool of communication.”
- Mads

Mads: We start with a low color intensity, but as we go along, we co-create along with the client. People might have difficulty with typography or graphic elements, but the placement and the color they naturally connect to. So for us, part of producing effective wayfinding is working with the people who regularly use that space to co-create it with us.

Annelle: Color has inherent psychological meanings. It can change perception depending on the scale and volume in which it’s used. It can create impactful experiences. It's a very powerful tool. Maybe one of the easiest and most digestible tools we can use in design, especially when used intentionally.

Kirei Insight: Complete freedom to explore color, especially in the early conceptual phases, is necessary to a successful project outcome. Bold colors, in particular, can invite some apprehension at first. They’re an investment, somewhat of a risk, but it is an opportunity to positively change perception of a space.

With AKUART, rich color can be printed on an extensive canvas, and the canvassing can be replaced without changing the integrity of the acoustics or the paint on the walls. It’s a wonderful tool to enable creativity without the traditional reservations that can arise.

How do acoustics play into experiential graphic design?

Abby: We all know that offices have a critical need for acoustic comfort. We often see the need for a fully integrated solution within the architecture.

“With AKUART, we’re able to bring these two very fundamental aspects together — acoustics and graphics. You want acoustics to blend in, and you want graphics to stand out. I think this accomplishes both.”
- Abby
Nov2020 Panelists Blog Case Study

Image Source: AKUART Case Study

Annelle: Clients — whether hospitals, retail, or corporate — are always looking for something reasonable for their budget. They place their bets on experiential graphic design to make the space beautiful, authentic, inspirational. Having products that can support both the experience and the functional needs (like acoustics) is really beneficial as a designer. Then we can do multiple things with the features we’re developing.

Mads: Sometimes, sound insulation is treated like an afterthought. If you invest in a beautiful New York loft that’s raw, the acoustics are terrible. The typical acoustic solutions for the ceiling are, well, also terrible. That’s where I think AKUART can really help.

Kirei Insight: From our perspective, exceptional design is well-integrated, as Abby said. It’s thoughtful, and each critical component is considered at conception. This ultimately makes space for compelling creative work and the most unique design solutions.

How do you translate the tone of voice of an organization into the space? Is this space-dependent or client dependent?

Abby: It’s totally client and space-dependent — what story are you trying to tell? Google, for example, is either trying to highlight or celebrate a feature or tell a story of the design concept we’ve explored. Some of the ways we translate that is the type of language we use — naming and aesthetics.

Annelle: It’s definitely dependent on the space and the client. We have to use the space to tell their story. There’s the global perspective, and then the scaled-down version, the local. We’re finding that everyone wants to be a part of the community. It’s part of the story. So there’s the company, there’s the community, and then there’s their culture and how they work.

Nov2020 Panelists Blog Color

Image Source: Confidential Tech Block, Annelle Stotz

How do you see AKUART fitting in a project?

Mads: I work a lot with wayfinding for clients like art museums, with really hard surfaces, where elegant solutions of acoustics are so critical. We’re also starting a new project with schools around Copenhagen, and I’d like to incorporate this product into this project. AKUART will help with sound control, which is really necessary in public schools.

Nov2020 Panelists Blog Wayfinding

Image Source: Danish Architecture Center, Mads Quistgaard

Abby: There are so many opportunities, since it can work as an art piece and draws attention to itself, but is also functional. I’d also like to blend it with EchoPanel, or other products — that would be interesting to explore.

Annelle: The flexibility of this product and system is really appealing.

“The permanence of graphics is always a concern, so the ability to update it easily is really exciting and important as part of our overall solutions.”
- Annelle

The other thing I’m looking at is the different planes — what I like is that AKUART has already started to look at all the different planes and surfaces and how they can be cohesive as a system.

For more inspiration, access the entire event

We hope that you walk away with a fresh perspective, a sense of excitement about the potential for new design solutions, and a deeper appreciation for the possibilities of what our newest acoustics collection, AKUART, can offer in the world of experiential graphic design.

Thank you again to our guest panelists, Mads, Annelle, and Abby for sharing their insights and perspectives. Be sure to connect with them and follow their work via their contact info, listed below. Stay in touch with Kirei on Instagram and Pinterest for more inspiration and updates on future events.

For deeper details of their responses and to gain insight and hear the latest design industry trends from top designers around the world watch the full panel discussion.

The AKUART collection: where design meets sound

Kirei brings innovative, functional, earth-friendly and visually interesting design materials to interior designers, architects, and end users across North America.

The AKUART collection offers customizable acoustic design elements made with changeable canvases for creating engaging experiential graphic environments.

Through minimalist design and a sustainable mindset, AKUART brings a whole new dimension of creativity for designers to build memorable design experiences by combining beautiful graphics with elegant acoustics elements.

AKUART is available in four multi-functional configurations:

Ready to explore? Learn more about the AKUART collection and how it supports a variety of acoustic and design needs here.

More about the panelists

Annelle Stotz, SEGD Board of Directors, Brand Designer at Gensler

Annelle was a Brand Designer at Gensler who specializes in spatial storytelling and the creation of unique, integrated experiences for clients like Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and Adobe.

Abby Le Marchand, Senior Associate & Senior Designer, HLW

Abby specializes in sustainable construction and the future of workplace environments for campuses as large as 600,000+ sq. ft.

Mads Quistgaard, CEO & Design Director, Urgent.Agency

Mads is a specialist in connecting design practice and strategy, driving design projects for clients like d’Angleterre, Novo Nordisk, and The Danish Parliament.

Moderator: Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-Chief, Bellow Press

With over 21+ years’ experience covering the office furniture industry, Rob is in charge of Bellow Press publications, Business of Furniture Magazine, and Workplaces Magazine.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Twitter: @robkirkbride
  3. email: rob@bellow.press
  4. bellow.press