When Alberto Sánchez and Eduardo Villalón of Mut Design visited a science museum, they weren’t too keen on the insects displayed in an entomology exhibit. But upon closer inspection of a few beetles on view, they struck upon a bit of design inspiration.
Back in their Valencia, Spain, studio Sánchez and Villalón began prototyping ideas for sound-absorbing panels that borrowed inspiration from the beetles’ shape and structure. They began by looking at the different geometric shapes that compose a beetle shell, then cut material to mimic the forms and layered them together. Eventually, they landed on six shapes that can be mixed and matched.
“Some of the shapes which can be combined are flat and others have a three-dimensional shape,” Villalón says of the panels, which are manufactured by the Spanish furniture brand Sancal. “Combining these two shapes together creates an overlap with space between the panels, which helps to create better acoustics.”
The finished product features an oak “spine” that upholstered foam panels are clipped to. Users can pick the fabric that covers the foam panels and choose how the shapes are configured. The customizability of the piece helps to personalize the product and riffs on the idea that no two beetles are 100% identical.
Mut Design’s Beetle panels are essentially textile sculptures. And even if they can’t entirely mute noisy coworkers, they’ll look gorgeous doing what they can.
“The panel itself stands as a decorative piece that you integrate into your home or office as a functional room decoration,” Villalón says. “By the many different combinations you can create your own functional piece of ‘art.'”