Sony Installation Milan

Although Barber & Osgerby had enjoyed more experimental projects in the studio before, they had rarely been publicised. The Sony project was an incredibly exciting one for the studio. It was one of the first times Edward & Jay were able to show this side of their work, and on such a grand scale. It was also the first time that Sony had hosted a stand-alone exhibition at the Milan Furniture Fair. Barber & Osgerby were commissioned, with their architecture studio Universal, to create an exhibition for the company in the Villa Stendhal, on Via Tortona in Milan, during the 2010 fair.

  • Year / 2010
  • Manufacturer / Milan

As often happens, the project grew out of series of lengthy and lively discussions with the client. As conversations developed, ambitions for the project also continued to grow. Edward & Jay made a trip to Sony headquarters in Tokyo, and were captivated by the new R&D technologies developing in sound. In fact, the more they learned about the company, the more they were drawn to showing a different side to the brand – something more experimental and raw. One of the most interesting areas investigated was the new sound and home entertainment technologies. Several of the pieces in the exhibition used Sony’s actuator technology, a stunning development that could turn almost any material - even a household object, like a ceiling light, bowl or vase - into a speaker. It worked by embedding special solenoids into the rim of sheet material, making that material emit sound. Through an intensive series of studies by the highly skilled Sony engineers, Barber & Osgerby and Universal were able to investigate a variety of different forms, and materials such as acrylic, Corian®, wood and ceramic to achieve the best sound quality. The results were a sensation. Sony was fantastic to work with and enabled the creation of a complete vision for the exhibition space and its contents. An anechoic space (acoustically dead) was designed to house the prototype speakers and the new Sony home entertainment product designs. 

Every surface from floor to ceiling was lined with technical-grade soundproofing. Natural sound was deadened, and the space surreal. The space was also acoustically partitioned, allowing visitors to capture the intense sounds that these new products could produce, without interruption from other experimental spaces in the room, or the relentless clamour of the Milan fair outside. The arresting visual impact of the grey foam cones heightened the otherworldly feel of the space, and again provided a respite from the mania outside.