Silente*, never heard a chair like this
At the intersection of design, technology and user needs, a new chair has taken center stage at Milan Design Week 2022. Known as Silente*, its name already suggests its unique character.
Manufactured by Luxy and developed in collaboration with the Tangity Milan design studio, Silente* aims to respond to some of the new needs and behaviours that have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The widespread adoption of remote working due to social distancing regulations has made frequent video calls and ubiquitous use of headphones the norm, turning our traditional work environment into a hybrid workplace between our home and the office.
Silente* uses cutting-edge sound management technology to meet the novel technical and organizational challenges we are now experiencing. The chair allows the user to create a comfortable and private acoustic bubble in any environment, be it the open space at work or your home office, without the need for headphones.
Two technologies are at the core of this innovative product. Firstly, the Personal Sound Zone (PSZ) is a technology that creates a private acoustic bubble in any open space by enclosing the sound from the speaker, preventing it from dispersing out into the environment.
Secondly, the Intelligent Microphone function (IML) recognizes speech direction to separate the necessary sounds from background noise, allowing the voice to transmit in a crystal-clear fashion.
While technology represents just one side of Silente*’s, our design team was committed to giving the chair a prominent role in our everyday living spaces through consistent research of aesthetics and ergonomics. Thanks to that, Silente* unifies the comfort of typical high-end home furniture with state-of-the-art workstation innovation by gracefully merging these two aspects in a clean, soft and sinuous silhouette that seems to naturally emerge from one continuous surface.
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An emotional and immersive discovery journey
Silente* was launched at this year’s Salone del Mobile Milano fair and as part of FuoriSalone at Fondazione Catella, hosted by Casa Luxy.
Our Untanglers were also involved in shaping the overall exhibition experience, focusing on user interactions, creating visual product assets, and managing the guests’ feedback.
Our exhibition’s goals were to offer our guests a memorable experience allowing them to live-test the chair by softly evoking the scenario and user needs that led to the concept.
To reach these goals, we designed the visitors’ hybrid journey, making it informative and emotional, physical and digital, leveraging various touchpoints.
In both venues, visitors could simply walk in, dive deeply into the dimensions of space and time and participate in unveiling moments that let them progressively discover the product.
At Salone del Mobile, following a short preparation of Luxy outside the stand, the journey continues inside a dedicated space. The overall perception changes as the visitors approach Silente* and take a seat. The outside chaos of the fair suddenly vanishes to make space for an immersing experience of calm, thanks to their Personal Sound Zone. A gentle voice helps the guests discover the surprising functionalities of Silente and guides them through the space, encouraging them to touch specific details of the chair until the time has come to say goodbye.
From the methodological point of view, design thinking has also played an essential role in product conception and development. That’s why, after having live-tested Silente*, we asked guests to contribute to future design iterations by participating in a brief survey.
We gathered feedback through a quick online survey after completing the Silente* experience.
The short questionnaire consisted of three main sections aimed at profiling data, impressions of the experience and insight into the chair’s functional and aesthetic aspects. While most interviewees were Italian, we were glad to welcome a few Middle Eastern and Northern European representatives, too.
Generally, the impressions were very positive, especially regarding the headrest and its application in the workplace. From a design point of view, it was, in fact, this main feature that most visitors highlighted as the chair’s most impressive element.
A few interviewees also expected active noise canceling, which we attempted to implement during our design process. However, this technology would’ve taken up too much space while not guaranteeing a satisfying effect. Some found the headrest design “a bit inconsistent and too present” compared to the overall chair architecture. Others noticed the flexibility of the prototype, which they thought should also be adjustable in its other main components, such as the arm and backrest.
Finally, many exciting insights are based on using Silente*’s technology to help people with physical or mental disabilities through voice-enabled commands or the reproduction of calming sounds for people on the spectrum. The collected feedback lays the basis for the current design iteration of the Silente* to perfect the product before going to market.
As Tangity’s first physical product, Silente* embodies the guiding principle of our everyday design practice that lies at the intersection of design, technology and user needs with the aim of humanizing complexity.