Marie Aigner is an architect, engineer and product designer.

For several years she has been designing sound-absorbing objects that have nothing at all to do with the monotonous technical absorbers that one normally comes across.

Her acoustically effective furniture, pictures and sculptures are inspired by the Memphis group, Art Deco or her son's cactus collection.

They don't hide, but make room acoustics tangible.

Judith Lembke

Editor in the economy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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Aigner presents brightly colored objects in an environment that could hardly be more contrasting - in the Diesel villa in Munich-Bogenhausen, which the inventor of the engine of the same name had built as a representative house in 1898.

At that time, it was equipped with the latest technology such as sophisticated window constructions, but also with a lot of dark wood, in keeping with the taste of the time.

In the historic villa, Aigner not only shows her products, she also lives there with her family.

During the pandemic, it was sometimes quite noisy for many in their own four walls.

All family members were at home.

Objects that swallow noises must have suddenly been in great demand, right?

The topic of room acoustics did not only gain in importance during the pandemic, but in the years before that.

This is mainly due to the many new open-plan offices.

Working there means a lot more noise for people who were used to a one-person or two-person office - especially when several people are talking at the same time.

Improving the acoustics there not only helps mutual understanding, but also improves health.

Is this sensitivity to noise a German phenomenon?

In southern Europe in particular, things are often much louder than here.

I have the feeling that the sensitivity is generally increasing.

For example, I also get inquiries from the catering industry from the USA and Spain.

So far, that has not been the case with us.

How long have you been dealing specifically with room acoustics?

As an architect, that's usually just one of many topics when planning.

Fifteen years ago I redesigned the headquarters of a manufacturer of acoustic objects.

In the course of this, we have acoustically optimized the entire building.

I then started experimenting with the material.

Years later, I was commissioned to revise the product line as well.

That's how it started.

How do your sound-absorbing sculptures work?

These are absorbers with open-pored surfaces.

They swallow the sound.

Basically there are also reflectors that direct the sound, but I don't do that.

These are usually found in theaters or concert halls to ensure that the sound also penetrates the back row or the side rows.

And what are your absorbers made of?

Made from recycled PET bottles.

The material is a very good sound absorber due to its open-pore structure and high weight.

It is also robust and dimensionally stable.

Objects that have to be lighter, for example because they hang from the ceiling, are made from melamine resin foam.

The absorbers not only hang from the ceiling as panels as usual, but you can also use them to build furniture or sculptures, such as a large yellow cactus.

How did you come up with these ideas?

Acoustic objects usually look very technical, but yours look cheerful and playful.

My first objects also looked like they had been designed by an engineer and not a designer, very technical and just plain white.

But at some point I became more confident and brave enough to try things out.

I want to make acoustics visible and accessible to the user.

I also think it's good when my absorbers fulfill other functions.

What do you mean by that?

They not only insulate sound, but also serve as a chair, table, storage space or lampshade.

There are also acoustic pictures.

At first glance, you shouldn't see that there is an absorber behind them, they should just look good.