Sound is something that I never really realize the effects on an interior space. However it is a key player in how we perceive a space. If the space is full of hard surfaces the sound will echo in the space creating a cold and harsh environment while on the other hand if the space is full of objects and rugs and furniture then those pieces will absorb the sound creating a warm and inviting environment for the user. This is why relators will always advise you to show a house with the furniture in it instead of just an empty shell of a house for buyers to look at. The furnished home not only gives the potential buyers an idea of how the flow of the house works and a reference of how furniture will fit in the space but it also absorbs the reverberations of the sound and makes the space seem warmer. The most common place that I have observed sound and how it reacts with its environment is at the Sheraton Four Season’s hotel where I work at the front desk. At the Sheraton most of the surfaces are hard ones with little carpet in the lobby and large stone columns populating the space the only textile in the space is the chair upholstery located far from the front desk and the carpeted floor behind the front desk area. Because of all the hard surfaces when you are checking guest into the hotel they can barely hear you even if the lobby is completely quiet due to the reverberations of the other people in the space and the echo over powers you when you are speaking to a guest because the carpet and soft materials around the desk absorbs all the sound directed at the guest. This creates a unfriendly environment for both employees and the guest since neither can hear the other. This space is one that is negatively affected by the choices of materials that were used because they are easy to clean and maintain but they have no absorbent qualities other than the carpet behind the desk which also negatively affects the space. In my option the space would function better if the lobby area was populated with textiles and soft products that would help to absorb some if not all of the echo and reverberation created by the multitude of people that are interacting within the space.
After taking time to realize how much sound effects how we perceive a space I view it in a completely different way. As designers we need to take into account how everything we use in a space interacts with each other and how that interaction changes with you introduce people into the space. In order for our designs to be universal we need to be purposeful in the materials we choose for spaces and take the extra time to consider how acoustics work within the space and how that positively or negatively affects the interior of the space and how we perceive it.