Review of BE OPEN Sound Design Talk in Association With Wired Consulting

Thursday 20 September 6-8pm
The Hospital Club, 24 Endell Street, Covent Garden

BE OPEN hosted a panel discussion in collaboration with WIRED Consulting (the bespoke events arm of the internationally renowned magazine WIRED UK), on Thursday 20 September at London’s Hospital Club. Tom Cheshire, Associate Editor of WIRED UK,  moderated a panel of leading design minds, including celebrated designer Tom Dixon, Roland Lamb, Matthew Herbert, Lauren Stewart and Benjamin Koren.


Lauren Stewart described how every individual has a personal sound history that determines how they listen to and compute a new sound, while Matthew Herbert spoke about the relevant importance of sound and vision: “Research suggests that the average conversation has got 10 decibels louder in the last 10 years. Our world is becoming noisier, yet still everything is organised in terms of how it looks.”

Tom Dixon agreed, saying that restaurant design should keep improving, but all that happens is that restaurants get noisier and noisier.

Herbert feels that we ought to think more about sound pollution and stop just putting the focus on aesthetics. “This is an interesting time to be talking about sounds. There is a dawning realisation that we are on the cusp of something new; a new way of thinking about sound,“ he said, as he described Chirp, a new app that allows us to send data to each other via  sound, rather than through more traditional channels such as Bluetooth or email; so this is a significant evolution in communication.

At the Friday BE OPEN Sound Portal Lunchtime Talk at the V&A, London Design Festival director Ben Evans talked about how interesting it had been to create, with BE OPEN, “a deliberate non-design statement” for the Festival.  The brief, he said, was to make the Portal a total focus on the auditory, with seating arranged so that visitors didn’t look at each other and the only external references Nelson’s column glimpsed through the rooflight.  One of the sound artists, Nathaniel Robin Mann, talked about the pleasure of creating music for ‘deep listening” in “a safe and dedicated listening space, whilst Jo Thomas discussed the challenges of composing for this ambisonic space, which involved ‘unlearning’ techniques used in stereo.  The excitement of the project was summed up by Sound and Music producer Richard Whitelaw who said ‘The BE OPEN Sound Portal allows us to dream what the future of sound might be …’