Big open offices are the modern–and perhaps broken–standard, but acoustically, they’re nightmares: cavernous concrete bunkers where people are afraid to speak above a whisper. “No one really thinks about the quality of sound in a workplace,” says Benjamin Hubert of Layer Design. “Everyone loves these huge concrete open-plan workspaces, because they’re visually cool, but the sound is wearing.”
So Hubert came up with an idea. Scale is a new modular divider system that can be erected in any space. A honeycomb of hemp-lined hexagons act as acoustic dampeners to let teams quickly and cheaply divide up big spaces to make them quieter.
Unlike other dividers, Scale is a stand-alone system that doesn’t require existing infrastructure to install: all it takes is a coin. To divide a space with Scale, you simply slot together a skeleton made out of three-pronged plastic pieces that look a little bit like Flux Capacitors, then fit the triangular, pressed-hemp tiles into the joints. Not only are these tiles sustainably made, they’re also incredibly efficient when it comes to audio absorption. So while Scale’s walls might look flimsy, what’s spoken inside a Scale room stays inside Scale.
Layer developed the system for Woven Image, the world’s largest textile manufacturer. Hubert says the idea came upon realizing that offices were more open than ever before, yet the teams within those offices were constantly combining and recombining. “We realized that what was missing was a standalone product that could divide a space and improve sound quality, that was flexible enough to be constructed and deconstructed as easily as a team,” Hubert says.
Outside of offices, Layer envisions Scale being used in commercial spaces, hotels, convention centers, and any other interior space requiring dynamic, sound-dampening partition systems. Scale will go on sale from Woven Image, starting in 2016.