Both/And - Acoustic Solutions Designer and Sustainable Materials Advocate

Both/And – Acoustic Solutions Designer and Sustainable Materials Advocate

By Alexis Wagman

Dreena Mauricio started as an intern on both the upholstery and acoustics teams at Carnegie. Now five years later, she is in an influential client advocate position as an Acoustic Solutions Designer. Her background in both interior design and sustainability is what drives her perspective:  that advocating for the best client solution in the sustainable acoustics space means considering both the aesthetics and the impact on the people, process, and planet.

AW: Five years at Carnegie so far! What was your path to becoming an Acoustic Designer on the Acoustic Solutions team at Carnegie?

DM: Yeah, five years here now (not counting my internship!) I graduated from the Interior Design program at Pratt. I did many internships back then before interviewing here though… Packing state-shaped wooden cutting boards, and also interning at an architectural firm. At one of my internships, I selected a Xorel memo for an office project. I was curious about this product, so I looked into Carnegie and saw they had an internship position open. Though I now work in Acoustics, I originally started at Carnegie as an intern for both the Acoustics and Upholstery teams creating layouts for Design Services and cutting samples of Xorel (I remember cutting the Sahara Matte!) I bounced back and forth between the teams for a bit before eventually settling in fully on the Acoustics team. 

AW: It’s so great that you were able to get that intern experience on both teams. During both your Internship and Full-Time employment, did you have a career win that has stuck with you?

DM: I do! A project that stands out to me is one where we used custom cut Kirei PET to exceed the expectations of the design intent. The design inspiration they had originally given had a curved shape to it that they wanted to emulate. I suggested incorporating Kirei PET because it has excellent flexibility in terms of creating the curved structures they were looking for. I think of this often because it was a great example of how fulfilling it can be to be a designer when you’re able to align client inspiration and a beautiful, sustainable design solution.

Left: Kirei PET Layout suggested and approved by the client. Right: the final install.

Designer: GBBN
Project Name: UK Healthcare, Pavilion A 12th Floor - ICU
Product: Custom Kirei Panels based on Xorel Artform Peak
Photographer: Ryan Kurtz

AW: That’s a great point… Designers don't just put together something visually nice for a client, you’re the solution architect. With that being said, what is the most exciting part of being in your role? How does acoustic design play into designing interiors?

DM: It’s funny that you ask that! Before, I used to think of acoustics as just simple solutions of boring wall panels and ACT grids. Now, while working with Kirei and Xorel Artform, I see that it can be so much more than that. It’s exciting to be able to collaborate with designers and their clients on the vision of their space. We end up delivering something way beyond functional acoustic management: it becomes art. That’s what excites me the most - helping to deliver exceptionally beautiful spaces with acoustic support. Our projects are all interior spaces, so during my process, I inform my designs based on the rest of the space. Whether that be the color palettes or the layout and flow of the space itself I find harmony between that and the client's inspiration. Acoustics are an important piece of the puzzle that is needed for a successful project. 

Textile and Acoustic palette featuring Xorel and Kirei design systems.

AW: That's a really interesting insight into your process. Now that you say that, I'm curious – how do you think your education in Sustainability and Design prepared you for the sustainable acoustics space? 

DM: Mostly, I think it helped me be able to anticipate what our designers and their clients want and need. I'm sure other designers can relate. Even if their clients aren't other designers, we’re similar because our education allows us to have a bird's eye view of the entire design solution… where the client's expectation and functional design intersect. Interior design is more than creating a beautiful space, it has to have a purpose and deliver the needed functionality for the occupants of the space. In terms of my Sustainability education, Sustainability Studies was just emerging when I studied at Pratt (I was one of the first students to take the course!). Really, institutions were just starting to teach about sustainability in design. I used to think it was all about recycled material, but after my education, I learned the different elements of designing with sustainability in mind (energy use, health and wellness, ecological impact, and more.). Now, I consider myself to be a designer and an advocate for authentically sustainable solutions.



Dreena explains a project she’s designing and provides a glimpse into the design process.

AW: Confidently advocating for your client's vision and the most sustainable way to do it is invaluable, especially in terms of trust. What are some insights that designers in the A+D Industry should know about Acoustic Design? Is anything prioritized more often that you feel shouldn’t be?

DM: The number one thing I consistently emphasize to clients is the importance of acoustic management in your space. The design of a space can be incredible, but if it's too loud to spend time in, the end-user ultimately isn't enjoying it. Exposure to high noise levels can be uncomfortable and distracting, even causing harm to your ears and overall health.  While budget is ultimately what drives most design decisions, which is fair, I think finding the most sustainable acoustic solution within your budget should be the highest priority.



Xorel Artform design done by Carnegie Acoustic Solutions team for the Go-To Collection Launch.

AW: Budget is very important, but I agree… It should be a factor in a decision, not the sole reason a decision is made. Do you see any exciting changes on the horizon for sustainable acoustics in the next 5 years? 

DM: I'm hoping for more options that are sustainable. Whether that be acoustics being made of other sustainable materials (besides plastic), or other more natural materials like mushrooms. It would be cool to see acoustic materials made out of food waste or fabric scraps as well. Overall the sustainable acoustics space has great options, but there’s still so much room to innovate. As a designer who is rooting for products that are good for the planet, that is super exciting to think about.

Kirei Air Baffle is filled with Nike Grind fluff, a mix of recycled materials created from Nike’s end-of-life footwear.

AW: I'm sure you’ve seen the innovation landscape progress over the years, but you’re right, it is exciting to see where we go next. If you had to look back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your career in sustainable acoustics?

DM: I feel like this goes hand in hand with what we were talking about earlier… but I'd remind myself that a beautiful design goes beyond looks. It’s intentional, holistic, sustainable, functional -  and it’s important to advocate to clients the reasoning behind these design choices to help move them forward. Ultimately, tastes are subjective. It's our job as designers to advocate for the solution that solves the client's problem. The process and story of your design can be influential to the progress of the market/space! 

About the Author

Alexis Wagman is the Content Marketing Specialist at Carnegie. Passionate about what connects all of us, she seeks to leverage creative Marketing and design to communicate real stories.