Code of Si­lence

BEL­GIAN DE­SIGNER ALAIN GILLES AIMS TO TURN THE VOL­UME DOWN

Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _Erin Don­nelly

This past spring, a new trend was clearly ex­plod­ing at Light + Build­ing, Frank­furt’s bi­en­nial light­ing mega show. A mul­ti­tude of brands, from Lu­ce­plan to Nim­bus to Artemide, were hav­ing a go at com­bin­ing acous­tic con­trol with il­lu­mi­na­tion. Buzzis­pace – the Bel­gian brand that has long been build­ing sound buffer­ing into its of­fice fur­ni­ture – chose the show to launch its first acous­tic so­lu­tions in­cor­po­rat­ing light­ing. “I think quiet is a ba­sic need,” says de­signer Alain Gilles, at­tribut­ing the in­creased in­ter­est in con­trol­ling acous­tics to the ubiq­uity of open-plan of­fices. Any­one who has ex­pe­ri­enced an open of­fice knows how dif­fi­cult it can be to fo­cus in a space where con­ver­sa­tions and clack­ing key­boards fre­quently dis­tract. The im­por­tance of noise con­trol is some­thing that Gilles, who de­signed both of Buzzis­pace’s new acous­tic light­ing se­ries, knows some­thing about. “I ac­tu­ally had an­other life be­fore this one,” he says. “About 15 years ago, I was work­ing in in­ter­na­tional fi­nance at J.P. Mor­gan. Not in­vest­ing – I was back of­fice – but I was in a big open space. It took me six months to learn how to con­cen­trate in that en­vi­ron­ment. So I ex­pe­ri­enced it first-hand.” It was in this con­text that Gilles de­cided to switch gears and study in­dus­trial de­sign. Not co­in­ci­den­tally, many of the ob­jects he has pro­duced in his sec­ond ca­reer are made to tackle clam­our in the work­place. For Buzzis­pace, he has cre­ated soft seat­ing with noise­block­ing walls and art­ful par­ti­tions. His lat­est launches in­clude the Buzzi­hat sus­pen­sion lamps and the lin­ear Buzzizepp pen­dant – fix­tures that sub­tly in­cor­po­rate sound buffer­ing. The lat­ter, he says, was orig­i­nally con­ceived as an unob­tru­sive so­lu­tion for an echo prob­lem in his own stu­dio. “The idea with th­ese two prod­ucts is to fill that over­looked gap be­tween what’s on the floor and the ceil­ing,” says Gilles. “It’s not just a func­tion­al­ity; they’re real pieces that dec­o­rate and cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment. I never want any­thing to look tech­ni­cal.” Gilles has also re­cently com­bined acous­tic con­trol with an­other el­e­ment that sup­ports well-be­ing: green­ery. He teamed up with Bel­gian brand Green Mood to in­tro­duce desk di­viders, screens and wall pan­els that use plants to soften clat­ter. “I try to bring peo­ple to an­other place in their minds,” Gilles says, “where they don’t think about the stress.” alaingilles.com

One of Alain Gilles’ first acous­tic prod­ucts for Buzzis­pace was a screen of piv­ot­ing ver­ti­cal fins (left). More re­cently, the de­signer launched Buzzizepp (top right), a pen­dant orig­i­nally de­vel­oped to buf­fer noise in his own stu­dio. Green Mood’s G-cir­cle pan­els (top left) use moss and lichen to ab­sorb sound.

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