BLOOM regulates acoustic issues in large spaces by opening and closing a knitted surface to provide the right amount of sound absorption when it is needed. In conceiving of this project, our team of artists and designers was captivated by the idea of an acoustic cloud that can be folded as simply as origami paper, by using technical knits, smart materials, coded movement, and small modular components. We envision BLOOM to be suspended from ceilings, where it is sensitive to sound and therefore interacts and behaves intuitively, opening or closing to create a responsive environment.
Our goal was to create a modular system that provides us with the means to easily customize BLOOM for integration into a range of environments. The system could be installed in intimate restaurants and conference rooms, or large airports, schools, auditoriums, and libraries.
Each basic module is motorized, with six arms that are digitally controlled by a microprocessor, combined with weighted battens that are integrated into the textile. The entire system is designed to be infinitely variable. Thus, BLOOM has the capability to be adjusted in scale, material and color, due to the use of digital knitting technology and the repetition of some standardized manufactured components.
The production of BLOOM for a specific installation would ideally be done near the location of the project, by providing digital files to regional fabricators, but the entire system can also be easily shipped for installation. The lightweight, folding pieces makes transport relatively efficient and inexpensive.
BLOOM is the result of a sixteen-month collaboration between a textile artist who was responsible for the knitted surface, an interaction designer who developed the origami pattern and kinetics, and an architect who worked on the BLOOM’s construction and installation. All of us worked on the design and fabrication together, and made a number of prototypes in New York City, to resolve design issues.
The project benefits from each collaborator’s specialized knowledge and skills. The geometry of the knitted origami surface is based on pedesis, wherein slightly dissimilar triangular shapes repeat in an aperiodic manner, thus absorbing a broad range of sound frequencies. This surface unfolds to expose more and more fibers that can successfully absorb unwanted noise; but when reverberant sound is desirable, the surface contracts to permit increased reflection around the space that BLOOM inhabits.
Additionally, the fibers that are used in the technical knit have a fluffy, hollow structure, with desirable properties for absorbing sound. The fluffy surface interrupts sound reflection so that the sound waves propagate within the surface itself. Hence, the project is a good representation of the core competencies of an artist, a designer, and an architect coming together.
BLOOM is scalable and can manage the quality of sound that is needed for a specific situation and crowd. Yet each flower cluster that makes up the surface of BLOOM is designed and tailored from fiber to shape. By being able to custom design the fiber yarns, we control the acoustic qualities of BLOOM, and its lightweight construction. Every single stitch is digitally programmed and produced on a digital knitting machine, which creates the shape and folds instantly for direct application.
BLOOM : A smart, shape-shifting textile surface for acoustic
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