Sound designer and Pentagram partner Yuri Suzuki has created a sonic air purifier with his latest project, The Ambient Machine. Comprised of 32 inviting switches, the device allows users to compose their ideal relaxing soundscape.
Created in collaboration with Japanese furniture company E&Y, The Ambient Machine is a stylish walnut box that plays soothing sounds, including ocean waves, Sine bells, birdsong and white noise. All you have to do is toggle the various switches until you settle on your desired setting, then bask in the relaxing audio goodness.
The idea to create The Ambient Machine came to Yuri partly due to the pandemic. He noticed that people were spending more time than before in a single environment, making them tune in more to the surrounding ambient sounds. This included undesirable background noises such as outside traffic or sounds from neighbouring homes.
"People became conscious about the sound surrounding them, so I started to think about the importance of ambience," Yuri tells Creative Boom. "I also thought it would be good to create a sound conditioner, in the same way, we use an air conditioner."
In retrospect, it seems like such an obvious concept. Whereas people are accustomed to tailoring their homes to suit their visual desires, the same cannot be said about domestic sounds. "The Ambient Machine provides us with various sounds and music that we can use to design our own background ambience," Yuri explains.
"White noise can mask unpleasant sounds around us and give us a sense of relief. Natural sounds can provide the feeling of relocating to a new environment, providing a break from the environments we have been confined to, and musical rhythms can provide us with patterns to find stability."
As well as sounding good, The Ambient Machine is a treat to look at as well. Its minimalist yellow panel features 32 inviting silver switches, which are unmarked and invite you to experiment. The first row of eight switches triggers one of a series of sounds, while the lower rows control the volume, speed and other sound effects. "It's absolutely customisable for your favourite soundscape."
The idea of using sound and music to create background environmental noise began with the works of Erik Satie and, more recently, with the ambient music of Brian Eno. But for The Ambient Machine, Yuri relied on a list of sound narratives to settle on his chosen sonic samples, either recorded or generated by synthesizers. "Half of them come from ongoing research into how humans feel comfort from sounds, such as white noise and the oscillation of waves," he reveals.
The initial 20 model run of The Ambient Machine was featured at E&Y's 'Thirty-Six Views' exhibition in Roppongi, Japan, where it quickly sold out. Don't despair if you've got your eyes (and ears) on one, though, as Yuri reveals that he is already planning to release a second limited-edition batch as soon as possible. Be sure to bookmark and track its stock levels on the E&Y site.