Acoustics are crucial to the success of hospitality spaces. “Let’s go somewhere we can hear each other,” is an oft-heard reminder that the ability to communicate clearly is vital in ensuring customers will return to a restaurant, bar, or cafe.

Guaranteeing that patrons don’t have to shout to hear each other, or whisper to ensure the customers at the neighbouring table can’t hear them, is key when designing a comfortable hospitality environment; one that will deliver a great experience for customers, and appropriate return on investment for the business owners.

So how can designers and specifiers strike the right balance when it comes to acoustic treatment of hospitality spaces, whilst creating unique, visually striking interiors to help drive return profits?

Hard Surfaces and Acoustics

Many traditional hospitality establishments are fitted with upholstered surfaces that provide some sound absorption. However, as modern bars, cafes and restaurants look to current design trends for practical, contemporary solutions, hard surfaces are a popular choice.

Broadly speaking, the design of many newer restaurants and cafes draws inspiration from the contemporary, stripped-back school of design. Polished concrete, high ceilings, exposed brick and beams with minimalist furniture – or a distinct lack of plush, high-back armchairs at least – are chosen to match the clean aesthetic.

While hard surfaces might be easy to clean, without the heavy drapes, carpets, tablecloths and other absorptive materials of yesteryear, modern cafes and restaurants run the risk of becoming echo chambers. With music playing, and multiple patrons trying to be heard over one another, mellow chatter can quickly build into an indistinguishable cacophony of reverberation.

Reducing Excess Reverberation and Lowering Sound Levels

Acoustic panelling provides a simple solution to these challenges – soaking up excess reverberation and lowering the overall noise levels within a space. The variety of contemporary colour and design options makes it easy to specify a solution that fits any space, without compromising on the minimalist aesthetic.

Acoustic panels, such as Autex Cube™, are unobtrusive, easy to install, and do not require edging or capping. Depending on the amount of noise reduction required, the panels can be specified in a thickness of 12 or 24mm. Their polyester build means the panels are easily cut to size or shape.

The panels also allow for customisation and creativity through the installation process. While the standard application of panels would be directly onto the walls or ceiling, it is possible to get suspended panels that hang from the ceiling, or float off the wall. These are particularly useful in scenarios where irregular roof shapes or lack of usable wall space are an issue.

Acoustic panels are easy to clean, making them well suited to the hygiene requirements of hospitality spaces. Regular vacuuming will remove dust, and any residual marks can be removed with a mild detergent. Similarly, there are several simple methods of stain removal, and every acoustic treatment is supplied with a detailed care and maintenance guide.

Fins and Baffles: Ease of Installation and Variety of Shapes

Where acoustic panels are not an ideal solution – or in situations where additional acoustic material is required – there is a range of other options available that are well suited for hospitality applications.

Fins and baffles are an ideal acoustic solution for the ceilings of hospitality spaces. Simple to install and transfer, they can be easily repositioned or removed as needed. Available in a range of designs including lattices and rows, each style can be cut to fit your design aesthetic with the geometric simplicity of straight lines, undulating waves, or soft ellipses. Again, this broad variety of shape and design options is matched by a diverse colour palette, making fins and baffles incredibly versatile from a visual perspective – ensuring they can be customised to fit any design.

Hospitality spaces are all about socialising, which means that every design must have the perfect blend of ambience and audibility. With contemporary design trends leaning towards hard surface finishes, it can be challenging to develop a functional acoustic space that keeps patrons coming back. Luckily, with the addition of cost-effective, sustainable, and easy to install acoustic treatment solutions, this problem is easily solved – allowing hospitality businesses to focus on what they do best: creating exceptional experiences for their customers.