Goodbye show floor noisy neighbours

In November Paul Colston visited Thorns Group’s Kettering warehouse in the UK and experienced their new sound reduced meeting room technology.

Remember that experience on the show floor, where you take your place in the session theatre and then…the music blares or the shouts from neighbouring stands rise to a crescendo just as your speaker attempts to begin?

Thorns Group MD Jon Noonan is a man on a mission to solve the problem. For over five years he has been working away inside his ‘Kettering Tardis’ – aka the vast warehouse that holds the event industry furniture supplier’s huge stock (including over 8,000 conference chairs) – on a game-changing project designed to offer venues and organisers an oasis of peace on the noisy trade show floor.

Jon and his head of sales, Lloyd Kenyon showed me in to version 35 of the -45dB meeting room, so named because it can cancel out up to 45dB of the ambient noise of a trade show floor.

In fact, equipped with a sound level meter, we tested it out with some rather loud dance music blaring at 95dB just outside the room’s door. After stepping inside the level had decreased to 43dB.

The technology involved, which includes materials to dampen and absorb noise, with layers separated by air for extra effect, says Noonan, enabled his design team to find the sweet spot between pushing noise levels right down and letting expense soar using heavier materials that would also affect the speed of build up and build down, and not having enough of the right materials in the panels to reduce noise sufficiently to make a difference. “We could have reduced the sound to -100dB, but the costs would be horrific,” says Noonan, who believes the latest version (37) of the room has finally occupied that venn diagram sweetspot.

Creating sound-reduced spaces at events to enable organisers to run meetings or activations, even in loud, buzzy environments, has always been prohibitively costly, both to budgets and to the environment. That was the challenge which inspired Noonan’s -45dB to design for an innovative, sustainable modular solution.

The new system, includes a roof – integral to blocking out outside noise of course – is tailored to accommodate any size and function, with customisable spaces creating meeting and theatre environments within any venue. The all-in-one package is available to hire and benefits from a pillar-free design which can accommodate up to 180 seated guests.

Each space is delivered fully equipped and ready to use with a customisable inventory of AV equipment, graphics, furniture and tech support.

This is no bare bones box. -45dB includes high quality air-conditioning, chrome wall sockets, and lighting fixtures. The rooms create for guests a separate permanent venue directly on the show floor.

Says Noonan: “These high performance, design-led spaces are an ideal choice for event organisers and agencies looking to hire and create noise cancelling spaces in which to deliver quality content.”

The -45dB room can be easily branded – with sponsorship able to help cover some of the cost which, dependent on size, labour and specification, could still be above £10,000 for a 6mx6m structure.

Panels are all interlocking and are key to the product’s flexibility.

Thorn’s patent is pending, but the team is keen to push on into international markets with the product, which officially debuts at ExCeL London in the New Year. It will also showcase at International Confex, also at ExCeL, in February.

Finding such a calm meeting room on any show floor should certainly beat walking the length of a large exhibition hall to find a quiet meeting space somewhere off the floor. That is now possible, and something that Jon Noonan and his team are ready to shout about.