Working patterns over the past decades have changed, as the modern office has become more streamlined, flexible and dynamic, with an increase in informal meetings, phone calls and video conferencing. The ideal of the paperless office and the need for efficient communication has meant that the traditional furniture that once absorbed these sounds has been removed. In its place are hard surfaces, which present an acoustic challenge for designers. A build up of different noises can lead to a stressful environment, causing fatigue, distraction and decreasing efficiency – this also applies to many meeting rooms, where attendees can quickly lose concentration.
The Soft Cells wall and ceiling system was first developed for use in the Swiss Re headquarters in London. The tensioned fabric panels combine the aesthetic benefits of high-quality design fabrics with highly effective acoustic performance, enabling architects and interior designers to control light, softness, colour and sound in the workplace. The idea of using the fabric panels architecturally was first tested using models and prototypes in the studio. The success of this installation led to a subsequent collaboration between Art Andersen and Kvadrat and the product has since been manufactured for use in a wide range of commercial and public buildings.