Mosaik - An acoustic puzzle

Akustikmiljö and White Architects has created a modular acoustic product with integrated lighting. They believe that the two sets of skill will create an experience far beyond one plus one.

What does a silent light look like? That question and many others have occupied White Architects and Akustikmiljö in 2013. It all started as a spontaneous conversation between Ingrid Backman, designer and interior designer from White Architects, and Magnus Gustafsson from Akustikmiljö at Stockholm Furniture Fair last year. The conversation led to an idea for a collaboration on a new acoustic concept that included integrated lighting.

Ingrid Backman has as an architect not only many years of experience of Akustikmiljös products but also respect for their knowledge and also saw advantages in being able to work locally with the company situated in Falkenberg. After having engaged Whites lighting designer Andreas Milsta in the project, a more organized follow-up meeting to the first spontaneous meeting was held at Akustikmiljö in Falkenberg in late February. Guidelines were pulled together for the project and a schedule was set up: a new product was going to be presented at Stockholm Furniture Fair 2014.

The next step was to explore the market, look at Akustikmiljös exist- ing products and try to define target audiences and uses. In late April, the design platform was established and people started working on idea generation and concept proposals. The project grew, and White had several people sketching up various proposals. In early June, all the sketches has crystallized into two product ideas.

- And both were scrapped, says Andreas Milsta and laughs before continuing. That’s life sometimes. You have a great product idea but maybe the time is not right or other factors are taken into account that does not have anything to do with the actual product idea.

After the holidays they started from scratch and a new concept was produced in September that both parties were happy with. Ingrid Backman continues:

- We saw that Akustikmiljö was great at working with with frames, and a frame can contain virtually anything: an absorber tile covered with fabric or metal mesh, a whiteboard or a mirror. The customer selects the contents of the frames, which can have parts that are open, translucent or closed. The project is actually a sort of recycle. We took note of frames that are Akustik- miljös basis in their existing products and used that to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

The framework concept also includes an existing suspension system which also provides the advantage of furnishing suppliers and fitters al- ready being familiar with the system. The frames and their contents can be infinitely combined: floor standing displays which creates a room inside a room, combinations of wall/ceiling tiles or mosaic-like compositions of absorbers plus anything else you might need where the system is mounted.

- It gives the customer the opportunity to shape their rooms after their own needs, which adds value beyond the basic acoustic properties, continues Ingrid Backman. The features are as yet only in its infancy and we are open to what Akustikmiljö believe is in line with their product profile and customer demands.

But what about the light?

Ljus If you start with the construction part, the illumination is created by a light strip inset into the frame’s front edge which creates a hidden light source. The idea is to give the vertical surface a trailer light that can be adjusted so that it is not just the right amount of light to the frame size, but also that the room temperature is adjusted so that the light interacts with the material of the frame. Another advantage of integrating the lighting system is that you avoid all compromise-like ad hoc solutions afterwards.

- It simply becomes more attractive, says Andreas Milsta. Usually work is done with the form and structure of the absorber tiles, which is then highlighted by spotlights as an add-on. Here we have all in one. The tiles will be light carriers in the room just like any other pendant luminaire. A surface that creates an experience for the room but at the same time has functions far beyond any normal luminaire.

Tuning is the key word here. It’s not about any general light, but while contributing to spatiality. Andreas Milsta points out that one can actually speak of light from an acoustic perspective.

- A hotel environment, for example, dims down the lights during the evening to keep down the noise levels, it’s all about brightness and intensity. The light creates silence.

One can also take a candle as an example. It creates an atmosphere that automatically lowers the volume but also affect the activity in the room. Conversations becomes more intimate. The light whispers.

The future

White is right now in the second phase of three in development, and is working hard on being done with Akustikmiljös booth at the Stockholm Furniture Fair February 4 to 8. It will feature floor standing tiles, wall units and wall/ceiling tiles, but what the visitors will see is just the beginning, says Ingrid Backman.

- In 2014 the concept will be further developed with additional products and customers will be able to choose different types of wood in the frames, such as ash or oak, or have them painted in any color.

And the system will continue to evolve with new products. White already has already a large number of proposals that will be taken under consideration, as well as two ideas that were scrapped in June 2013. If the future has caught up, that is.

Project members White Architects

Ingrid BackmanIngrid Backman
Interior architect and designer
Andreas MilstaAndreas Milsta
Light designer
Monika SemkowiczMonika Semkowicz
Interior architect and designer