A new fabric offers a better way to block noise in open spaces without blocking light. Developed by Swiss textile designer Annette Douglas, researchers at materials science and technology company Empa, and silk weavers at Weisbrod-Zurrer AG, Silent Space curtains are made from a lightweight, translucent textile that absorbs sound.
Acoustic damping materials are usually heavy, since thin fabrics lack the density to effectively absorb sound. The Silent Space curtains, however, decrease reverberation and make spaces quieter despite their delicate appearance. Tests show the curtains are five times more soundproof than conventional drapery.
The material is the result of computer modelling, acoustic measurement, and specialized textile knowledge. A team of designers and engineers used digital models to illustrate the structure of fabric. Weisbrod-Zurrer then experimented with fabric compositions to optimize the acoustical properties, which Douglas translated into a weaving pattern with yarns that are nonflammable and translucent. Weisbrod-Zurrer made final adjustments to the manufacturing process so that the machine produced curtains met the required acoustic characteristics.
Recently released, the curtains fill a huge gap in the market made by the popularity of offices using open plans and industrial style lofts designed with hard surfaces.