Designing a better soundscape for the home office : Devlopment of acoustic furniture

Detta är en Uppsats för yrkesexamina på avancerad nivå från Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för ekonomi, teknik, konst och samhälle

Sammanfattning: As Covid-19 spread throughout the world in the early months of 2020 many people’s lives changed drastically. The situation forced millions of workers and students to start performing their work remotely from home. Currently in Sweden statistics shows that every third person working does it from home at least once a week. When our work environments change, new conditions are created for how we can design our environments, which contributes to new design challenges. We believe that some homes are missing an intended space for office work, especially smaller apartments in larger cities. This means, among other things, that many people lack a place in their homes that offers a good sound environment. We believe that all people deserve to have a workplace that provides the best possible conditions for personal development, performance and well-being, even when working from home. This thesis work within the field of industrial design engineering was conducted in collaboration with the acoustical consultant firm Efterklang and Luleå University of Technology. The development process has followed the human centered design process of Design Thinking, an iterative design process consisting of the spaces of inspiration, ideation, and implementation. The aim of the project was to investigate how people experience sounds throughout their work day and based on this design a product with good acoustical properties for their home. The project also considered the varying conditions for different home offices as well as how people want to work in the near future. The objective was to create a better work environment by improving the workspace and its soundscape. The following mission statement was set up: “Increase people’s well-being and ability to perform by designing a better soundscape for the home office environment”. A literature review has been conducted together with both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The result has been used to answer the following research questions: (i) What do the users perceive as noise in the home environment and what impact does the soundscape have on our wellbeing? (ii) How can we through design, influence people’s feelings and experiences in their home office environment? (iii) What materials or techniques can be used to help increase the acoustical properties of a product and the soundscape of the home office environment? (iv) What user needs can we meet by designing an acoustics-enhancing product for the home office? Close to half of the project was spent in the space of inspiration, to get a deeper knowledge of the field of acoustics. Primarily the aspects of low-frequency noise and how it affects people was researched. It was however discovered in the interviews, observations, and questionnaire that a majority were consciously more affected by generic noise in their proximity. It was also discovered that when designing their workspace, sound, lighting, ergonomics, and privacy was the most important characteristics. Based on this knowledge, two personas were created which primarily helped to keep focus on the intended target group. The personas have also been used to motivate the final result. In the ideation phase, a total of six workshops were conducted. One of these workshops was performed together with six acoustic consultants and designers. This opportunity helped to evaluate our ideas and realize what is actually possible to achieve. The workshops have contributed to both diverging and converging the thesis work. The development of the concepts has throughout the project been done in an iterative process of workshops and user insights. Prototypes in the form of sketches, digital CAD models, and augmented reality [AR] have been used to convey our ideas to the users. The thesis work has resulted in a modular workstations that consists of acoustic elements in the form of absorbents and a floor standing screen. The product also includes a number of functions that can help the home worker to create an ergonomic workspace. It provides amongst other things a height adjustable desk and electric outlet for lighting. The workstation also has a number of shelves that the user can decorate or use for storage.

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