Great art has the power to silence a room. This is literally the premise of Lotte Raun’s company that creates, among other products, sound-absorbing works of art. It all started when Raun and her family moved to a villa in Dubai, a move she hoped to curb what she calls “the invisible problem” of echo in her stairwell.
“Being Scandinavian, I like minimalist interior design with little but well chosen furniture and only a few textiles,” says the mother of two from Denmark. “However, our house was not built with acoustics in mind; every sound bounced and took forever to fade… it made me uncomfortable and tired somehow.
Raun, 36, was therefore inspired and guided by his country of origin, where most of the homes incorporate ceilings or acoustic walls. After a few prototypes, she imagined an arty solution that has since evolved into a company aptly named Mute: acoustics, and creates works that absorb sound.
Raun, who has his roots in industrial design, worked with local suppliers to create “acoustic images” featuring photos of his young children, who soak up excess sound in the stairwell while contributing, rather than compromising, the decor of his Arabian Ranches villa. “They are hung on the wall, beautiful canvas prints, but absorb all the sound waves hitting their surface.”
When visitors began to appreciate this practical art, Raun decided to launch his first solo business last May. It turned out to be a fortuitous moment.
Noise canceling solutions for those who work from home
As the pandemic has pushed more people to work from home, the demand for better home office space has also increased. When Raun’s full-time job succumbed to the crisis, she chose to focus on Mute, helping more people with their noisy household issues.
“Often, it was not the client who experienced the problem directly,” she says. “Instead, it was the people on the other side of the screen in the Zoom or Teams meeting who complained that the sound was bad and full of echo or reverberation, which severely degraded the sound. ‘intelligibility of speech.’
The canvas for his Mute Pictures creations is “transparent acoustics ”, allowing sound waves to reach an acoustic core which absorbs them and transforms them into micro vibrations. Buyers can customize their own images or choose from a catalog, which also gives photographers in the UAE a new outlet for their work.
Traffic noise or construction noise coming through windows or doors is a problem for many in the UAE
Lotte Raun, founder of Mute
“We believe acoustics and aesthetics go hand in hand,” says Raun. “For the photographic products, we created a collection of simple images that can be printed on the canvas, and we thought it would be a great idea to support local artists and photographers.”
Mute Pictures are made in Dubai, with frames produced in-house at Jebel Ali. Acoustic canvas prints are sourced from a local supplier and any image can be used, such as personal photos for the home or branding in the case of corporate clients. The canvases are easily replaceable if owners wish to update.
Raun says her clientele so far has been a mix of “boardroom and dining room,” but demand for noise solutions has led her to add three employees and two more are expected later this year..
The product line has also expanded to include more solutions for residential and commercial spaces. “Indoor acoustic problems are too big to be solved with Mute Pictures alone,” says Raun. “So we decided to launch Mute Felt, sound-absorbing felt panels for walls and ceilings, which are lighter and more economical. [per square metre] as pictures. “
The fabric in question is a flexible, porous material made from recycled plastic bottles and can be used to cover more area in a room.
Mute is also preparing to release products capable of handling intrusive sounds from outside buildings, namely Mute Curtain and Mute Seals.
“Traffic noise or construction noise coming through windows or doors is a problem for many in the UAE, which is why they are being launched to allow people to enjoy their sleep,” says Raun.
Larger projects always start with an acoustic assessment of the space using a dedicated sound device to measure reverberation time; more precisely, how long it takes for a sound to disappear.
“Once the Mute Picture and Mute Felt are installed, we take another measurement to quantify the effect,” says Raun. “It’s our way of making the invisible problem more visible to the customer and to ourselves.”