The days of over-crowded, echoing offices are coming to end as office furniture manufacturers develop innovative acoustic furniture architecture. These acoustic office products help the masking of sounds, reducing the noise within the office, resulting in higher concentration levels and increased productivity. Furniture manufacturers have also integrated technology to help create private and social meeting spaces within the open-plan office.
So how is this being achieved?
One of the most practical space defining solutions coming to the market in 2011 is Meeting Pods. Offering unlimited potential uses, Meeting Pods provide an ideal way to use space and improve privacy in an open-plan area, while giving offices the flexibility to move screens around and section off individual areas. Cost effective, in that they are mobile and can be set up anywhere within the office to create a quiet area, Meeting Pods can absorb sound to ensure total acoustic privacy and discretion.
In 1987, the urban sociologist, Ray Oldenburg, stated that, if the first place was home and the second place was work, then third places are areas which should be social and community orientated. It is with this in mind that the Hive Acoustic Sofa by Roger Webb Associates has been designed. A modular sofa with integrated technology, the Hive Sofa is one of a number of high-backed sofas coming to the market that aims to create a third space within the office environment. Those using a high backed sofa find themselves in a secluded place, unable to be heard or seen from the outside. The acoustic qualities of these office sofas work to create a peaceful oasis for workers and, by pushing two high-backed sofas together, a ‘room-within-a-room’ effect can be achieved.
But the development of acoustic architecture in the modern day office doesn’t stop at clever furniture. Today, open-plan offices can also benefit from sound-absorbing wall panels. Designed specifically to reduce echo and reverberation, but also used as decorative wall features in boardrooms, receptions, restaurants or homes, acoustic wall panels have been described as 3D wallpaper and are available in a range of colours and designs. Après Furniture has complete some large installations of acoustic panelling for corporate receptions and also offers a unique sound absorbing decorative screen made from moulded fibre felt. Now that’s what we call working in the 21st century.