Dezeen Magazine

Textiles are a "simple, smart material" says Kvadrat Soft Cells design director

Kvadrat Soft Cells design director Jesper Nielsen explains the advantages of the three-dimensional textile panel system his team is developing in this movie Dezeen filmed for Kvadrat in Copenhagen.

Kvadrat Soft Cell studio by Caruso St John
The Kvadrats Soft Cells studio was designed by architecture firm Caruso St John. Photograph by Patricia Parinejad

Kvadrat Soft Cells is a modular system produced by Danish textile company Kvadrat. Each panel comprises a recycled aluminium frame filled with acoustic foam, which can be covered with a wide range of Kvadrat textiles.

"Currently Soft Cells consists of a very large variety of planar panels, with a patented technology for tensioning almost any kind of textile," Nielsen explains in the movie, which Dezeen filmed at Kvadrat's recently opened design workshop by architecture firm Caruso St John.

Kvadrat Soft Cell studio by Caruso St John
Before now, Kvadrat Soft Cells panels have always been flat. Photograph by Patricia Parinejad

"One of the concepts that our innovation department is presently focusing on is going out of the plane, creating three-dimensional panels," he adds.

"It is the result of enquiries that we have had over the years from architects working with free-form surfaces."

Kvadrat Soft Cells
Nielsen and his team are working on developing a three-dimensional acoustic panel system

The experimental three-dimensional panels are constructed from an array of customised aluminium ribs, over which fabric is stretched.

"It's a bit like 1930s airplane construction," Nielsen says. "Whereas on the planar soft cells we only tension the edge of the frame, on the three-dimensional project the tensioning system is spread over the entire surface."

Kvadrat Soft Cells
Nielsen compares construction of the new panels to "1930s aeroplane wing construction"

This construction approach allows Kvadrat to produce Soft Cells in a wide variety of different shapes, which enables architects to design spaces with very specific acoustic properties.

"We can create almost any shape that is possible within the physical boundaries of the textile," Nielsen says. "With this very open and lightweight construction you have the possibility to adjust the absorptive qualities of the surface between absorption, reflection and diffusion."

Kvadrat Soft Cells
A variety of different Kvadrat fabrics can be tensioned onto the panels. Photograph by Patricia Parinejad

Nielsen says that he considers textiles to be "a simple, smart material" because of how it can be manipulated to produce different effects.

"You can almost see textiles as a simple smart material – materials that combine different functionalities," he explains.  "You can work with the properties of the textile for creating both the acoustic performance and your design intention."

He adds: "By developing this three-dimensional system, we want to offer architects or designers the possibility of a much larger freedom of design with textile surfaces than they have today."

Jesper Nielsen
Kvadrat Soft Cells design director Jesper Nielsen says that he considers textiles to be "a simple, smart material"

This movie was filmed by Dezeen for Kvadrat in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Poznań, Poland.

Photography is by Dezeen, unless otherwise stated.