A Conversation with Gary Nightingale on the Birth of SÖFWAL

Gary Nightingale
Gary Nightingale

The recently released SÖFWAL series is a game-changer in space division. The internal extrusion frame creates a classic PET felt product with impeccable durability. The frame also allows for some add-on features, including sound-blocking inserts, perforated design with acrylic inserts or acrylic extensions.

We sat down with our own Gary Nightingale, lead designer and Co-Founder of Fräsch, to pick his brain about the inspiration and the process.

Fräsch: SÖFWAL has so many interesting features. Tell us a little about your inspiration.

Gary Nightingale: Well, offices aren’t what they used to be – and they continue to change as companies move to more flexible schedules between the home office and work office. The modern office today needs to provide employees with flexibility and activity-specific areas.

FR: What do you mean when you say “activity-specific”?

GN: Not only do people not have their own offices anymore, they often don’t even have their own desks. So office spaces need to be fitted to focus on four main activities: collaboration, focus spaces, training and socialization.

FR: Don’t open floorplans already do all that?

GN: Yes and no. Open offices are typically a bullpen of anything from separated workstations to extended shared tabletops, with maybe some offices or conference rooms around the perimeter. More and more, we have seen clients incorporate either flimsy dividers or more permanent structures. While they provide visual division, they are often made of hard surfaces (like glass). Once they put them in they then realize they have an acoustics problem.

Office Space

FR: Ahhhh… hence the PET felt.

GN: Yes, hence the PET felt. Our goal was to create a division system that was highly flexible, has minimal to no installation costs, and provides both visual and acoustic privacy. We also wanted furniture-grade aesthetics and durability. As some of the products are moveable we want them to stand up to a little wear and tear.

FR: So that’s where the internal frame comes in.

GN: Yes – but the frame adds so much more functionality in addition to a more durable product. Since the frame is internal, we can incorporate a vinyl insert for sound-blocking, or an acrylic insert so that perforated designs can still have that lovely see-through effect while maintaining a physical barrier.

The frame also opens up a whole new world of hanging and installation options, from tabletop feet on a desk divider to a sliding track slider for more complete room separation.

FR: That sounds great – but what about the aesthetics?

GN: The beauty of SÖFWAL is that it’s just as flexible as any typical PET divider, with a vast array of color and perforation options.

Soft Wall

FR: Nice! And since it’s made of PET, it retains sound-absorbing acoustic qualities, right? Or does the frame diminish the material’s performance?

GN: The frame actually enhances performance, as we use a two-layer design with a hollow cavity built around the extruded frame. The PET is a high-quality sound-absorbing material while the hollow cavity traps sound waves, improving performance.

Fräsch designed SÖFWAL line of dividers to provide both acoustic comfort and acoustic privacy in a series of flexible division solutions. If you have a project in mind or would like more information, please contact us!

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