INTERVIEW WITH SAS ADRIAENSSENS, HOMEDESIGNER BUZZISPACE
“Designers determine the waste of the future”
Two years after winning the OVAM Ecodesign Award PRO 2009, Buzzispace landed the Henry van de Velde Award for most innovative company. Sas Adriaenssens is the creative brain behind the innovative acoustic design for at home and at work. “Designers have great responsibility in the preservation of our planet.”
What was the importance of winning the OVAM Ecodesign Award Pro for Buzzispace?
“For us the OVAM Ecodesign Award Pro was, without a doubt, the proverbial push in the right direction. More and more companies were jumping on the Ecodesign bandwagon at the time. This was not always inspired by a care for the environment, but far too often from a marketing point of view. Others often looked on us condescendingly when we profiled ourselves as an environmentally-friendly company. We constantly had to compete against the prevailing idea that ecological entrepreneurs were out for a quick buck. Whereas for us this has always been an integral part of our corporate philosophy. When OVAM gave us the Ecodesign Award Pro, that scepticism was gone for good and we were even accepted by the biggest cynics.”
How have you grown as a company since then?
“Whereas Buzzispace already had success in neighbouring countries prior to 2009, Belgium was still somewhat lagging. Belgians prefer to wait and see before investing in new products and services. The Ecodesign Award PRO and the subsequent press interest launched a whole series of valuable projects in Belgium. There was also more interest coming from Australia and Japan. Earlier this year we opened our first showroom in London and we are working on a showroom in America.”
What place does Ecodesign have today in your business management?
“Ecology is not only essential in the design phase, but in all segments of our company. Logistically we make sure that all products have flat packaging, we don't transport air. We are constantly considering whether it is ecologically justified to carry out certain projects in other countries, and we see what can be done on location as much as possible. With every step we make as a company, and with every product we manufacture, we ensure the pillars of our corporate philosophy have been met: ecology, acoustics and flexibility.”
Is it becoming more difficult upholding these principles the more Buzzispace grows?
“The problem lies not so much in doing business in keeping with our original ideas, but more in the practical execution. We were one of the first companies to work with PET fibres, nowadays Chinese entrepreneurs are buying up massive quantities of this waste. Hence the importance to keep innovating and looking for alternatives. We are currently considering corn as an eco-solution for the manufacture of our products.”
What responsibility do designers have in ecological terms?
“Designers determine what the waste of the future will be. Everything we come up with and manufacture has consequences for the future. That is why the product design must be as sustainable as possible to make sure the products last as long as possible. Even better is making sure in the design phase that the product can be recycled at the end of its life cycle. In this way waste becomes a valuable raw material. Felt can be recycled 4 to 5 times to make one of our products and even then it can be used as acoustic material in cars. I believe designers almost have a duty to go as far in this as possible to safeguard our planet for our children and the generations that follow. Users and companies also play an important role. At first they may need to pay a little more to support a new, innovative technique. But I consider it a logical contribution to the future of our planet.”
The Belgium-based company BuzziSpace was created in 2007 in Antwerp as a creative subsidiary of Tecnospace.com, which had specialized in the production of elegantly designed cubical walls for offices. BuzziSpace offers innovative acoustic solutions for the home and the workplace.
BuzziSpace's products are developed for the homes and workspaces of tomorrow, and they stand out because of their functionality, lightness, and flexibility. The aspect of multi-functionalism is always the main interest of the design. The intention is to present products that may be used in diverse ways in any room and are effective acoustically and unique. Besides the importance of the motto ›A World of Silence‹, a pleasant look and feel and environmental-friendliness also play a large role.
Acoustics, ecology, and flexibility: these qualities distinguish products by BuzziSpace. The team follows the philosophy of ›cradle to cradle‹, which stands for recycling and environmentally friendly processing of materials and the conscious use of raw materials and energy. The result is materials like ›BuzziFelt‹, a kind of felt made of 100 per cent recycled PET waste or ›BuzziFabric‹, a fabric made of recycled wool. Style has become an important product in our hectic world. Whether in large-scale offices or lofts, living and working in public areas is preferred. Places where one may use the telephone or work in private have become rare. BuzziSpace creates little oases of peace and quiet with its acoustically effective products. Since the way that people live changes just as much as life itself, products from BuzziSpace are able to be used in diverse ways in any room, and they may be adjusted without any problem to suit the needs of users at home and in the office.
The search for attractive, creative products goes hand-by-hand with our concern for acoustic requirements. In todays workplaces and meeting areas, it is important for everyone to experience the sounds of their surroundings positively. This is why BuzziSpace products include an indication of their reverberation time to give you an idea of how well they absorb sound. You can see from the diagrams (p.216-217) how the BuzziFelt fabric performs in an alpha-Sabine test, and how two products made of the same material, BuzziScreen and BuzziZone, perform in an alpha Object test. With regard to the sound pressure level, we focus on the frequencies between 250 Hz and 2000 Hz, the usual range of human speech. Most people can hear frequencies from 20 Hz up to 20000 Hz, in other words 'almost noiselessly' to 'very loud', and for BuzziSpace products we aim to have optimal sound absorption in the speech range. The products we have tested succeed in this aim.
BuzziSpace develops, manufactures and sells products for environmental engineering applications. This makes it natural for us to make sure our own environmental standards are always high. BuzziSpace upholds environmental working methods across the whole organisation. The criteria of the international environmental standard are a minimum requirement in our work. We systematically evaluate our environmental approach to correspond to customer needs and government requirements. all of our staff apply our environmental method to their routines and instructions, and they are encouraged to take personal responsibility by taking the required training.
BuzziSpace endeavours to use the production equipment, forms of energy and distribution methods that put the least possible strain on the environment.
economising and recycling raw materials is a process subject to constant supervision and improvement. products which cannot be recycled in our own or our partners' production processes are recycled to provide energy. To stabilise and limit the effect of unintentional dumping as much as possible, we have worked out contingency plans in cooperation with the authorities. BuzziSpace products, packaging and raw materials are continuously assessed in order to diminish their negative influence on health and the environment. BuzziSpace cooperates with its suppliers and other partners on environmental issues and expects these partners to respect the environment and pay more attention to environmental issues.
Steve YJ Symons – ceo