Noise-quenchers in curtain quality

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Weisbrod-Zürrer launches new sound-absorbing curtains in Trevira CS

    The qualities of the new collection Silent Space are genuinely new and should fill a gap in the market. Textile designer Annette Douglas and Swiss weavers Weisbrod-Zürrer AG set themselves the by no means simple task to develop curtain materials that are excellent at absorbing sound, but at the same time are light and translucent. They must in addition meet the high demands of interior designers. This is a combination that has been lacking until now in modern interior design. Since these fabrics are aimed in the first instance at the contract market, flame retardancy was a further important criteria, and for this reason the collection was created in Trevira CS.Annette Douglas has developed the collection in conjunction with the Swiss test institute Empa under the brand name “Annette Douglas Textiles Acoustics®“. Weisbrod-Zürrer AG is producing and selling it exclusively under the collection name Silent Space.

    Textiles as important sound absorbers
    Noise is annoying. It interrupts communication, reduces productivity and tires people out – in extreme cases it can even make them ill. Sound-absorbing surfaces are therefore needed in rooms where people work, talk to each other or are trying to relax. These decrease reverberation (echo) and so make rooms quieter. However, so-called acoustically “hard” materials such as glass and concrete, which are commonly used in interior design, scarcely absorb sound at all. Heavy curtains made of material such as velvet are often used to absorb sound. On the other hand, lightweight and transparent curtains are acoustically almost useless. At least they were until now. Previously, the principle held that the more sound it was necessary to absorb, the heavier and thicker the fabric had to be. Now there are curtains with a drape weight that can absorb up to five times more noise than their conventional equivalents, and yet let daylight into the space.

    Textile development on computer
    The first acoustically optimised lightweight textile resulted from the successful combination of computer modelling, acoustic measurement and textile expertise. Working with Empa, the project leader and textile designer Annette Douglas succeeded in converting the new findings into weaving techniques. On the basis of numerous acoustic measurements made on various samples specially woven by Weisbrod-Zürrer, they were able to gradually optimise the acoustic properties of the fabric. An the industry partner involved in the project, Weisbrod-Zürrer then adjusted the sophisticated manufacturing process so that the industrially-made curtains actually display the required acoustic characteristics.

    Massive interest in contract sector
    Weisbrod-Zürrer aroused enormous interest following the market launch of the collection with the three qualities Streamer, Liquid and Whisper. Even the experts were enthusiastic, reports Empa. “Acousticians are pretty astonished when they see the readings we are achieving with the new curtains in the reverberation room. says Kurt Eggenschwiler, Head of Empa’s “Acoustics/Noise Control” Division. The new textiles can be used in a variety of places where there is a need for sound insulation, such as offices, living rooms, restaurants, hotel lobbies, seminar rooms and even multi-purpose auditoriums. They are often the deciding factor in satisfying the acoustic requirements and regulations that apply to these rooms. But one can well see their use in the private sector as well.

    Daniel Fountain / 19.07.2011

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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