Story at a glance:
- Autex Acoustics reimagines the interior of the traditional commercial space.
- These sustainable product lines meet acoustic and aesthetic needs.
- Experts say vibrant acoustic decor is the way of the future.
In the past office space designs did not keep the people who would use the building in mind. Many offices were open, with cubicles and muted colors. Some of them had poor lighting, too. Some workers had difficulty hearing throughout the day, with competing voices all in one place. The sustainability, acoustics, and style of other commercial spaces, too, have suffered the same issues, and experts say we need to address those more.
Founded in New Zealand with an office in southern California, Autex Acoustics aims to change the narrative about commercial spaces, just like offices and educational facilities. Since 1967 Autex Acoustics has been a leader in the development and production of non-woven architectural textiles.
Autex has individual offices with fabrication networks across Australia, the UK, and the US and has created innovative acoustic solutions that help limit reverberation in otherwise noisy spaces like cafes or other high-traffic areas. The company has also committed to many sustainability goals, achieving carbon neutral product lines and creating environments that prioritize the health and wellness of its inhabitants.
While meeting sustainability and practical needs, Autex has also helped to make spaces more beautiful—even hospitals long known for being cold and clinical.
“Our materials play a role in increasing patient comfort, which we know increases the effectiveness of that healing environment for the patient,” says Tim Koldenhoven, North American sales director for Autex Acoustics. “Outcomes are higher when we introduce and address the acoustics within a space. Our materials are working to address that aesthetic need. Fifteen or 20 years ago aesthetics were kind of the last concern.”
Autex offers many beautiful acoustic solutions. For example, many education projects use their Composition and Sordino products as both sound absorbers and tack boards. Composition is a durable and flexible acoustic wallcovering that is typically applied in vertical drops like wallpaper. It’s easily maintained and retains its rich, solid color and soft, velvety finish over time. Sordina is a felt, roll form wallcovering with a sleek, flat finish that’s designed as a high-performance alternative to paint and wallpaper.
Then there are the vibrant colors of Autex’s Frontier line, which work great for implementing school colors in a space or creating a custom-printed wall to match specific branding. Autex has met design goals like these at K-12 schools and universities by using its Cube panels. These versatile acoustic panels are lightweight and semi-ridged, made from compressed polyester felt with endless design flexibility.
“When Autex really stepped into the market eight or nine years ago we were leading that charge on bringing aesthetics to the space that still gives the performance factor that then allows clients to hit those things that are so important to them,” Koldenhoven says.
Acoustics in Action
Autex has recently helped improve acoustics and beauty across educational projects all over the US—from high schools in Indiana to the University of Kentucky to the UCCS Engineering Center in Denver and the Milken School in Los Angeles.
As the Milken School welcomed staff and students back to campus after the pandemic, the institution wanted to improve collaboration across the campus and modernize the design of the school. Autex explored how they could make the new acoustics the most effective, so that whether students worked in pairs or in a large group everyone could easily be heard. They also considered what visual themes would have an impact on creativity while evoking positive energy and creating special shapes when interacting with light.
The architect behind this project, ODAA, wanted to use ceiling space in the library and design faculty workspace “hubs.” For these spaces Autex selected products Frontier Fins in the Tundra and Dune profiles. “Our Frontier line is very heavily used. That’s one of our more popular lines, designed for open-plan spaces to help limit unnecessary noise,” Koldenhoven says. “That’s the hanging elements and items you see within the space.”
To go along with the school’s blue and white colors, they chose shades of Muralla and Opera to add depth.
Autex’s Groove product line is also popular across businesses looking for wall treatments. The outer cut patterned panels are lightweight with precise, angular designs that bend and distort light.
A recent office project in Texas encompasses a variety of acoustic treatments in its space, including custom Groove wall paneling, Timber Wood print beams, and many creative concepts like ceiling baffles with their logo.
Autex always aims to strike the perfect balance between beautiful aesthetics and acoustic needs. “We have an array of materials to choose from that are both attractive and high-performance,” says Kayleigh Bernardi, regional sales manager for the central US for Autex Acoustics. “Budget is always an important factor, and our team works diligently to ensure we have solutions for all sorts of budgetary constraints.”
In the post-pandemic era the world has become much more mindful of acoustics, and more creative applications are now being incorporated into décor than ever before. Autex is excited about what the future could sound like. “In the future I imagine aesthetic acoustics will be incorporated into all aspects of design—everything from ceiling treatments and lighting to three-dimensional wall applications, where the acoustic treatments can be design centerpieces or can hide in plain sight,” Bernardi says.