Go with the Grain: How Acoustic Wood Can Elevate Your Environment
Biophilic design and proper acoustics have both proven to improve well-being, productivity and creativity so combining them together is a natural fit. With sophisticated designs and high performance materials, wood acoustic solutions can enhance the style of any space, improve overall well-being and contribute to sustainable design goals and building standards.
Acoustics, Wood, TURF, Unika Vaev, Akupanels, workplace acoustics, workplace design, well-being, sustainability
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Go with the Grain: How Acoustic Wood Can Elevate Your Environment

Biophilic design and proper acoustics have both proven to improve well-being, productivity and creativity so combining them together is a natural fit. With sophisticated designs and high performance materials, acoustic wood solutions can enhance the style of any space, improve overall wellness, and contribute to sustainable design goals and building standards.

Bring the Outdoors In

With health and wellness taking the lead in return-to-work plans, biophilic design presents an opportunity to incorporate natural elements into your space. A clever way to invite nature into interiors is through wood-inspired textures. Ceiling solutions, such as TURF Timber and Unika Vaev ecoustic® Timber Ceiling Blade, capture the natural warmth and beauty of wood with the benefit of high performance acoustics. TURF’s digital printing on PET felt ensures a unique and realistic grain while Unika Vaev’s ecoustic® Timber Ceiling Blades are a modular drop-ceiling tile, combining sound-absorption with PEFC-certified solid wood.

Utilizing timber ceiling baffles and wall tiles can add a sense of depth, space delineation and visual interest. Combine function and aesthetics with a streamlined, sophisticated approach or sculptural forms designed to complement your space. Limitless architectural applications are possible with a broad range of finishes and custom matching.

In a recent project for Tulane University’s Testing and Tutoring Center, VergesRome Architects transformed the basement of Howard-Tilton Memorial Library into a dynamic, flexible learning environment. For an open breakout area, they used Akupanel from Acoustical Art Concepts to incorporate biophilic and acoustic elements. The veneer panels bring warmth into the space and minimize noise, making it easier for students to concentrate and focus on their studies.

Improve Health and Wellness

The pandemic has further exposed the need and value of having access to the outdoors, fresh air and daylight. Most people spend 90% of their time indoors though so it’s important to have natural elements woven into them to sustain healthy lives. Biophilic design can help improve people’s focus, boost their mood and reduce stress.

While lack of natural elements affects the daily well-being of individuals so does unwanted noise. According to the Leesman Index, nearly 75% of employees feel managed noise levels are an important aspect of effective workplaces; however, only 30% of employees are satisfied with noise levels. Distractions arise from both people and objects, such as neighboring coworkers, loud printers, open meetings, and phone calls. Building relationships with your team and clients is essential, and daily conversations with your colleagues helps create a welcoming, friendly and collaborative environment. However, distractions come with a cost. It can take up to 25 minutes to regain concentration after a distraction, and employees can lose up to 86 minutes a day due to these interruptions. Noise causes the inability to concentrate and focus on tasks, decreasing productivity and workplace satisfaction. In addition, poor acoustics increase stress and fatigue, which is linked to high blood pressure, hypertension and headaches.

However, sound absorbing solutions can make a difference. Well-designed acoustics allow for better concentration and help facilitate communication, enabling people to collaborate without distracting nearby co-workers. This is critical for people’s overall health and wellness and attracting and retaining talent. Proper acoustics go beyond the workplace though. They can also improve patient recovery and confidentiality in healthcare facilities and dining experiences at restaurants. Thus, through biophilic design and high-performing solutions, organizations can support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of everyone who walks into their space.

Incorporate Sustainable Design

Acoustic wood can also help meet sustainability goals and reduce life-cycle impact. Building certifications, such as LEED, WELL and the Living Building Challenge, are driving change to foster health and wellness by creating human-centric environments. Many of our acoustic partners utilize responsible materials, such a PET felt, Forest Stewardship Council®-certified sourcing practices, recycled content, and health-conscious components, to minimize their environmental footprint. These manufacturing practices can contribute to building standard criteria for material ingredients, low emitting interiors and acoustic performance. For instance, TURF and Unika Vaev both register their products with Declare to offer material transparency and help designers find healthy products for their projects.

Plus, a new generation is entering the workforce—Gen Z. Multiple studies have found that the environment is one of Generation Z’s greatest social concerns. They not only view the environment as a personal responsibility but a corporate responsibility as well and want leaders to focus on policies and programs that protect the planet. As employers seek new ways to attract and retain talent, sustainability also becomes a recruiting tactic and part of their culture. Thus, acoustic comfort can contribute not only to building standards but the success of a company’s bottom line.

Interested in learning more about our acoustic wood solutions? Contact Trip Russ at t.russ@thinkaos.com.

Sources

Allen, Joseph G. and John D. Macomber. “We Spend 90% of Our Time Inside—Why Don’t We Care That Indoor Air Is So Polluted?” Fast Company. Excerpt from Health Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity. Published May 20, 2020.

Harvard Health Publishing. “A Prescription for Better Health: Go Alfresco.” Published July 10, 2010.

Knoll. “Distractions: Competing for Your Attention.” Published April 7, 2020.

Knoll. “Embracing Gen Z: Your New—and—Future Colleagues.” 2020. Accessed May 11, 2020.

Knoll. “Noise at Work.” 2019. Accessed May 11, 2020.

Wilkins, Brad. “Stimulating Biophilia Through Corporate Interior Design.” WorkDesign Magazine. Published February 2021.

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