A Sound Idea

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Published in Architectural Record, February 2015

It would seem like a logical leap to combine acoustics and lighting into a single ceiling fixture but, surprisingly, few such products exist, especially in the realm of high design. French architect Odile Decq sought to remedy this while designing the open and airy—translation: noisy—GL Events headquarters in Lyon, France.

To reduce energy consumption in the all-glass building, Decq left the ceilings exposed and used concrete surfaces as a thermal mass. “But this created the problem of sound and a need for special lighting,” she explains. “Thinking about how to solve the two problems in one object, I designed Pétale.”

The luminaire, fabricated originally for the GL project and now mass-produced by Luceplan, possesses a light, ethereal look with white fabric stretched over a petal-shaped frame. Underneath, a round polycarbonate lens at the center diffuses either LED or fluorescent lamping and bulges against the fabric to create a gentle contour on the pendant's face. An optional strip of LEDs lines the frame's perimeter for more general illumination. But the real innovation of this floating sculpture is what isn't visible: a 2½"-thick glass-wool core runs from the diffuser to the frame, absorbing sound from above and below.

For the best results in a given project, specifiers can either work with their own acousticians or Luceplan. Two amorphic shapes—55" x 33" and 60" x 47"—are available, as is a 47"-diameter round version.

According to Luceplan USA CEO Giuseppe Butti, Pétale has become the company's top-selling product because “it's really three things: an acoustical panel, light fixture, and design element.”