A table
that helps us listen

Acoustics are affected not only by screens and manipulated background noise. Now furniture can also contribute to a better sound environment.  A telling example is the Silent Whisper table presented at the Stockholm Design Week in February.

The table was designed by Sigrid Strömgren, a master’s graduate from Göteborg University’s School of Design and Crafts (HDK). She saw the potential of sound absorbent furniture during her sabbatical year working with noise researchers at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Hospital. ”My basic idea is to prevent noise from arising in the first place,” she says. The top of Sigrid’s table, which is produced by Swedish furniture company Materia, reduces sound by 10 decibels.That’s half the volume produced by standard laminate tops.

The secret is a material under the table’s top layer that absorbs the actual vibrations, unlike conventional sound absorbers that mainly attenuate the lingering tones. Sigrid graduated from the HDK in spring 2007 with a thesis on noise-absorbent furniture. Materia helped her produce the prototypes and then continued the partnership. The Silent Whisper design is now pending patent registration. “There’s a lot to do”, she says. “Spaces designed for conversations and relaxation are often the noisiest.”

Ingrid Sommar