Kirei president John Stein sheds light on the importance of acoustics in your hotel

John Stein is the owner and president of Kirei (pronounced “kee-ray”), a provider of innovative materials that are visually interesting, functional, and environmentally friendly. Driven by its mission “Do Well By Doing Good,” Kirei consistently aims to provide materials that are as low-impact to the environment as possible.

Q: What role do acoustics play in a hotel’s context?

Acoustics can have a big impact on the guest experience at hotels—from the initial lobby experience through room comfort and enjoyment. If the acoustics are bad, there’s a bad first impression or poor utility of the spaces, discouraging active use of these amenities. If rooms have poor acoustic treatment, outside sounds can seriously disturb guests during the night—resulting in a poor experience that translates into repeat or non-repeat business for the hotel.

Q: Paint me a picture of ideal acoustics in the different spaces of a hotel. For example, in guestrooms, lobby, restaurants, meeting areas, and so on.

Guestrooms should always have warm acoustics—not too sharp or overly echo-y. Also, good sealing of the space is essential to prevent outside noises from disturbing occupants.

Good acoustics in a lobby will enable simultaneous use of very differing spaces all in the same area—check-in, bar/restaurant, meeting spaces, lounges—all of which have different acoustic sources and tolerances.

Meeting areas should focus on privacy so that sound is not transmitted out of the space and also does not disturb others. This space should also have protection from outside sound so that conversation may be carried on and not heard outside the room.

EchoCloud: Perforated Flat Clouds

EchoCloud: Perforated Flat Clouds

EchoCloud: 3D Cloud

EchoCloud: 3D Cloud

Q: What are the places most in need of an acoustic solution?

With relation to hotels—restaurants, meeting spaces, lobbies, and guestrooms should all be acoustical areas of focus. Fitness centers also often need acoustic treatment, both within and to prevent noise transmission to the other rooms on the floor or those above or below.

Q: How did Kirei come to be? What has been your inspiration behind the acoustic range?

We started Kirei 15 years ago, bringing beautiful and sustainable design materials. About five years ago in response to the growing need for attractive, functional, and sustainable acoustic materials, we brought EchoPanel to the North American market.

EchoPanel is a series of decorative and functional designer acoustic products made by Woven Image and distributed exclusively in North America by Kirei. The visually-dynamic and versatile EchoPanel collection of panels, systems, tiles, and partitions are available in standard or custom options to address various acoustic needs in commercial, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and education environments.

EchoBlade: Swoop

EchoBlade: Swoop

Q: I see acoustic products from Kirei range from walls to ceilings and partitions. Which type is best suited for what conditions?

It really depends on the space conditions—ceilings are the best place to start and with such a variety of ceiling heights and types, choosing the best solution differs from space to space. High ceilings cause long reverberation time, or echo, and it is important to help absorb this sound before it bounces around a room. Wall panels are another great way to avoid the echo that comes with hard surfaces and parallel walls.

Q: For ceilings alone, Kirei has quite a few offerings—EchoCloud, EchoBlade, EchoStar, EchoFold, and so on. What elements do these ranges target?

We aim to provide a variety of looks from industrial to sophisticated, to enable designers to match their décor with a great acoustic solution.

Q: Can you draw functional differences among EchoCloud variants—3D Cloud, Deep Cloud, Flat Cloud, and Perforated Flat Cloud?

These are all designed to provide different looks while also adding significant acoustic absorption to a space. Each has a slightly different look but good surface area to absorb sound.

EchoCloud: Flat Clouds

EchoCloud: Flat Clouds

Q: What makes this range sustainable?

EchoPanel is manufactured using 60 percent recycled content, helping take this material out of the waste stream and providing a market for recycled material. EchoPanel is also recyclable and has low VOC emissions, qualifying for LEED credits and other green building or sustainability certifications.

Q: Can you tell me a little more?

To date, 80 million plastic bottles have been saved from the landfills and turned into EcoPanel products. Plastic waste is a major issue around the world, and by utilizing this recycled content EchoPanel helps to provide a place for this waste to go when recycled. It’s an issue that is important to us and we are proud to be able to cite this statistic as one that we have helped contribute toward.

Q: What are the concerns and preferences of hotels that use your acoustic solutions?

Cost is always a concern. Designers and hotel owners are not always willing to budget for acoustic design and materials, but the return on investment is there and can often offset or quickly exceed the money spent on the design and materials. Happy guests recommend hotels and return―and unhappy guests typically equal bad reviews and negative word of mouth, both of which cost the hotel money.

Q: What would you like to add that might interest our readers?

Acoustics can be easy to overlook but can play a very important role in occupant enjoyment of a space. It’s very easy to notice when acoustics are bad, and less easy to notice when they are good. If you take a second to notice, you will realize the role that sound plays in our enjoyment of a particular space and the choices we make in where to spend our time and money.

Images courtesy of Kirei.

By Najook Pandya