Ever been in a restaurant and find you can't hear yourself think? Did it annoy you?
Annoys the hell out of me. Makes me feel old. Makes me feel annoyed. Makes me sound like a bah-humbug-restaurant-Scrooge. I end up asking friends if we could meet at someone's home next time, or somewhere that's not so noisy.
So this not only appeals to me. It will probably appeal to any public space designer.
A guy called John Meyer of Meyer Sound Laboratories has used his deep knowledge of acoustics to effectively "Photoshop" the sound profile of the restaurant. He's done it in such a clever way (apparently — no one from The Future is Already Here has yet visited) that it does this dynamically. This means you get the background noise, which he calls the "reverberations". But none of that annoying sound, which he calls "reflections", that ruins the conversation you're actually trying to concentrate on.
The result is summed up in this phrase: "conviviality without chaos".
Seems to me that more places could do with this… but then, maybe I'm just getting old.
In the future, we'll see smart design shifting from what you can see to what you can't see. Once everyone produces good visual design, another way to stand out and get ahead of your competitors will be through good audio design – all part of the experience.