Silence is important for many activities: sleep, meditation, relax, concentration…
But in day-to-day life, silence is more often a dream confronted with a reality made of city noises, children playing, colleagues walking & talking and more.
Silence is also rising as a trend in our society – a much needed one to counterbalance our loud and constantly connected world!
Such an increase in the importance of silence has encouraged new efforts in the field of acoustic panels.
And today there’s a wide offer of effective solutions that also look beautiful, making it much easier to introduce them in a design.
So let’s look at some acoustic panel options that – besides being effective and beautiful – are also made out of sustainable materials!
Some materials – like wood bark – are naturally sound absorbent.
Wood bark is made even more sustainable by its harvesting process. This consists in peeling the bark from the tree trunk, without having to cut the plant down and without damaging it!
Freund (opened in a new window/tab) uses poplar and cork bark to make panels that can either cover entire walls or be framed as a piece of art.
These panels are a great option for a biophilic design. They add a real natural element with incredible tactile richness. And in some cases they can also strengthen local identity in a space.
Wool is another interesting application of natural materials for acoustic products.
Tante Lotte (opened in a new window/tab) makes acoustic panels using Tyrolean wool, a type of wool that is too coarse to be used for clothing.
At the end of their life, these panels can be shredded and reused to make new ones. A good solution to "keep materials in use", as circular economy teaches.
Meanwhile, the company is working on another sustainable end-of-life alternative, that would allow to bury the panels on the ground as fertilizers.
Mushroom mycelium is essentially the root system of mushrooms. This is a new material for interior design and it’s being used in numerous sustainable products exploring the concept of biofabrication.
Mycelium feels like velvet at the touch and its foam-like consistency makes it a good material to absorb sound.
Mogu (opened in a new window/tab) mixes mycelium with textile residues to create sustainable acoustic panels in a variety of patterns.
Moss & lichens
Preserved moss is a solution to add a real green feature to walls without the need for maintenance. Besides being an interesting biophilic element, moss panels are able to improve acoustics in indoor spaces and serve as natural air humidity indicator.
PET felt is an interesting way to upcycle single-use plastic. It is produced out of plastic bottles and feels as soft as wool (which is why it is also called PET wool).
PET felt panels come in a variety of colours and can be decorated with relief textures, adding further visual interest and tactile richness.
Offecct (opened in a new window/tab) has created an acoustic solution entirely out of left over materials.
The body is made upcycling textile pieces from upholstery production, whereas the caps at the ends are made of recycled aluminium.
Patented as BAUX Acoustic Pulp, this is an innovative bio-based material made mixing wood chips (sustainably harvested Swedish fir & pine tree), recycled water, non-GMO wheat bran, potato starch, plant-derived wax and citrus fruit peels.
Besides having a fascinating composition, this material is also very effective at absorbing sounds!
Baux (opened in a new window/tab) (the company that has patented it) has taken a biomimicry approach in the development of this material. In other words, it has taken inspiration from natural shapes and chemical compositions to achieve desired features.
For instance, the hydrophobic surface of lotus flowers has been the inspiration to make the material water repellent.
Wood fossilization and the composition of grass roots have been imitated to make the material fire-retardant.
And a honeycomb structure has been used to minimize material use and weight.
Acoustic panels work extremely well in improving the acoustics in interiors. They’re also extremely versatile, as they can be used on walls, ceilings, room dividers and sometimes even double as pinboards.
Given the importance of silence for our health and productivity, acoustic panels are an interesting addition to both work spaces and residential interiors.
And with so many options we’re literally spoiled with choice!
For more sustainable interior design inspiration, you’re welcome to visit SforSustainable (opened in a new window/tab), the online platform where I curate a selection of sustainable products for interiors.
- Rings - Greenmood (opened in a new window/tab)
- Buzzi Mood - Buzzi Space (opened in a new window/tab)
- Soundsticks - Offecct (opened in a new window/tab)
- Kite - Mogu (opened in a new window/tab)
- Onde - De Vorm (opened in a new window/tab)
- Origami Energy - Baux (opened in a new window/tab)
- Dots - Refelt (opened in a new window/tab)
- Natural Stones - Vicoustic (opened in a new window/tab)
- Whisperwool Nickel - Tante Lotte (opened in a new window/tab)
- Bark House Pappelrinde - Freund (opened in a new window/tab)
- Evergreen Moos - Freund (opened in a new window/tab)