The Silenci Chair by o4i
With the Silenci chair, Stockholm-based o4i—a design studio that focuses on contemporary domestic and public furniture— wage war against "acoustic clutter." Manufactured by de Nord, Silenci is a classic stackable wooden chair outfitted with a solid wood frame and a soft polyurethane back. Could this remedy the noise pollution in libraries? Prevent sleeping babies from being awoken by chairs that accidently topple over? Provide the ideal furniture for noise-sensitive migraine sufferers? Well, almost. Designed for use in public spaces, these chairs boast their inaudibility, but there's nothing quiet about their design.
The flexible rubber-like back gives comfort, and together with an acoustic sound absorbing panel hidden under the seat, noise is reduced to accomodate public areas where upholstered seating cannot be used such as schools, cafeterias, restaurants and bars.
"The key feature of the chair is the soft polyurethane back that—first and foremost—serves to give better comfort. We wanted to give the traditional strict and usually hard wooden chair some functional improvements in order to raise it above the same type of chairs that are very common in school canteens, cafés and restaurants here in Scandinavia," says o4i's Principal Designer, Henrik Kjellberg.
The corners of the back serve as bumpers both when stacked and when they come in contact with table tops. "During the process of development and testing we also realized that the back—besides being comfortable—also work as a silent bumper. For a home this will of course make minimum difference but the chair is designed for public use with schools and restaurants in mind—and here, noise is a real problem," says Kjellberg. "Chairs banging into tabletops and tipping over around kids may not be an epidemic but in a room with 30 - 300 chairs all sorts of improvements that fight noise are very welcomed."
The Silenci suite includes a chair, barstool and a table with various bases. "Feet sliding and banging is indeed a common source for noise , however this problem has to be solved on a more site specific level as - in regards to the sliding - the floor material really dictates the sort of glider that is most appropriate. No affordable universal solution was found here, unfortunately," says Kjellberg. "What we did find however is that these noises—and this applies especially to all non-upholstered chairs—travels via the legs to the seat and are amplified by the chair itself. This lead us to contact acoustic expertise to evaluate if there was a way to stop some of that noise in a different way and maybe even improve on the noise level in general that travels around in a room."
"A working solution turned out to be an A-Classed 40mm thick, open-cell, recyclable PET foam under the seat creating a hidden sound-absorbing box. This feature of the chair is of course optional as it makes little difference in your home but will unquestionably help noise reduction in larger public settings," says Kjellberg.
The chair is currently availible in all black or natural birch or ash wood with a black seat and back.