The sound of silence



I rediscovered a old article from September 25 2019 in Repubblica -Design. it shares at different value of silence. I decided to get it translated and publish it here.
I wrote about silence in another post at



The article translated


“The sound of silence gives value to words”
written by Francesca Gugliotta September 25, 2019

Open space, coworking and often even restaurants designed by great architects do not solve the negative effects of noise in the rooms. Fortunately, the solutions are numerous.

  • Illuminates and corrects the acoustics: it is Hush, the modular lamp by Massimo Farinatti for Martinelli Luce, covered with the Snowsound Technology sound-absorbing panels by Caimi Brevetti

Photo description:
Lamps Illuminates and corrects the acoustics: it is Hush, the modular lamp by Massimo Farinatti for Martinelli Luce, covered with the Snowsound Technology sound-absorbing panels by Caimi Brevetti


“The other evening I was in a restaurant in London”, says architect Manuela Mannino,“a refined place with attention to the smallest details, but where I was neither able to taste the dishes nor to hear my interlocutor because of the ‘excessive background noise. Salty bill and dinner to forget. Often the premises, even those designed by the starchitects and led by renowned chefs, leave out a fundamental aspect, namely the acoustics:
Noise affects and deteriorates the perception of food”, says Franco Caimi, CEO of Caimi Brevetti
«In 2011 we invented the Snowsound technology, a differentiated density panel that absorbs sound frequencies selectively. We recently entered into a partnership with the Italian Federation of Chefs to improve together the culinary experience starting from the acoustics, studying the needs of catering, both in the dining room and in the kitchen ». 

The noise that is perceived in the interior is a sum of factors: «The speech that increases when you are in a noisy place, where, due to the Lombard effect, one tends to raise the tone of voice to be heard by others. 

Added to this are the ambient noises and reverberation, a kind of echo that continues to turn in the room: the sound wave hits the walls, especially against rigid surfaces such as marble, wood and plasterboard, and bounces like a billiard ball. “.

Loud voice and reverb worsen sound quality and make speech understanding difficult, especially in unique environments, such as coworking and open spaces, where sound control becomes essential:

  • “Reducing reverberation is essential to improve concentration, work, the experience of enjoying a good dish, in short, the quality of life”. 

Technically it refers to the absorption of the sound wave: «The sound wave is energy, we must absorb it to reduce its strength. And we have to absorb it selectively, because waves have various frequencies:

  • speech is between 250 and 2000 Herz,
  • high frequencies over 2000. The latter are easier to absorb because they are short and weak waves, while low frequencies are longer and stronger waves. 
  • Words and syllables have different frequencies,

so the secret is to absorb them intelligently and selectively to keep the speech clear and understandable ».

The sound-absorbing solutions  are many and suitable for any context, from large restaurants to metropolitan mini homes:

  • there are ceiling panels, integrated into the architecture and therefore invisible,
  • artistic panels to hang on the wall like paintings,
  • or freestanding modules that, in addition to correcting the acoustics, they mark the different areas and create a corner of privacy. 
  • Then there are the sound-absorbing curtains that muffle noises,
  • the furnishings covered with fabrics that help reduce glare and the sound-absorbing accessories that bloom like flowers on the wall .

All products that are easy to install, do not require heavy work and can be reconfigured over time. “It is correct to speak of sound absorption and sound insulation”, says Damiano Spagnuolo, marketing & product manager of Knauf Italia . «If the problem is due to poor insulation of the rooms, it is necessary to intervene, for example, by inserting insulating sheets of minimum thickness in walls, false walls and false ceilings. 

If, on the other hand, we are faced with a bad design or we cannot do renovations and we want to correct the internal acoustics, then we must increase the absorption capacity of the surfaces with sound-absorbing systems such as

  • baffles,
  • acoustic sails
  • and decorative panels ».

Among the Knauf proposals that can also be used at home and are quick to assemble, there is Topiq, the light and thin stone wool ceiling panel, which can be installed with screws and can be customized according to style and furnishings.


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