Studio Designers | Form & Function

Jun 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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The stone-wall design of the Chris Pelonis–designed Archon Studios

The stone-wall design of the Chris Pelonis–designed Archon Studios

What do you feel your business offers that keeps the work coming?
When I finished the first round of studios for PlayStation, the guy who runs the creative department and one of his engineers mixed a piece in one of my rooms, and he came out with a big smile, and said, “I just mixed something in four hours that would have taken me three-and-a-half days, and it’s the best mix I’ve ever done.” These guys come in early and they leave late. An acoustical workspace has enhanced their lives and they get more work done. If we do something right, it’s about the performances and the happiness of the people.

Hsu: Quality of product driven by a deep love of audio, turnkey design/build projects and ZR Acoustics. Studios with reproducible, excellent acoustical performance and enervating architecture/interiors develop a life and reputation of their own. We find that quality of work and word of mouth continue to be the strongest advocates.

Hanson Hsu designed Lime Studio

Hanson Hsu designed Lime Studio

Grueneisen: One asset is we’ve started doing more design/build projects where we are basically acting as the designer and architect, and a lot of times we transition into the actual delivery of the whole construction. The whole recession has affected construction in general, but I think overall the way things have developed to where we are now in terms of offering really turnkey projects puts us at a good point.

Storyk: Diversity is one of the things that’s worked well for us. If somebody had told me 10 years ago, “This is what’s going to happen: You’re going to have five different offices, including Europe, South American and Miami, and you’re going to [take on] other design fields such as home theaters, conference rooms, architectural acoustics, isolation acoustics and A/V systems design, and, oh, by the way still doing recording studios—a few thousand of them—I would not have guessed that. But that is what happened to us, and when one end of our business sank a little bit, another part would pop up. As a company, we are very fortunate and appreciative of this.

How do you design for smaller spaces?
I’m having to get clever about how to fit a lot of stuff into one space, and that’s where really accurate, detailed design work is paramount. You’ve got to know that when you open the door, you’re still going to pass code and you’re not going to walk into a desk. You need to really get involved in furniture and equipment location and placement, and I do a lot of custom desk design because off-the-shelf stuff often doesn’t fit certain purposes.

Hsu: After careful scientific study of the physical and psychoacoustic challenges inherent to studio design, we identified the roots of the acoustical issues and removed them via the design process. ZR Acoustics has solved the small room issue: 10 feet by 4 feet or 100 feet by 140 feet sound the same. Every dimensionally challenged project we design performs superbly using ZR.

Grueneisen: From a physical point of view, designing small spaces gets easier over time. It’s complicated technologically, but from a physical standpoint, equipment becomes smaller and disappears into a computer more, so that’s a huge advantage that allows us to be more free with the environment than we were when we had to work around huge consoles and other pieces of equipment.

Storyk: A number of years ago, we recognized a shift toward smaller studios and we saw that equipment was growing less expensive. We witnessed the evolution of the “project studio” (as we used to call it) into the norm in our industry, essentialy the democratization of the audio production community. As a global company, when we saw this happening, we determined that we needed to create scalability in our designs and in our deliverables to accomodate this brave new world. Although not instantly obtainable, we ultimately figured out how to do that, of course with the help of great digital tools in architectural and acoustical design, prediciton and document production. I can’t tell you how many calls I get that start off, “Oh, this project is probably too small for you.” And I have to say, “Wait a second, that might not be true.” And 30 minutes later, we’re still talking!

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