Sonic Union Makes Noise with their Fully Revamped Second Studio

Audio post-production company Sonic Union expanded into a second location in New York City, hiring Revamp to finesse the architect’s layout and add design elements throughout the 3,000 SF facility blending the functional needs of AV mixing studios with the quirky personality of a creative brand.

Revamp Interior Design has completed two locations of the audio production facility Sonic Union – the first in Union Square, and most recently a second location in Bryant Park. Combining backgrounds in music and psychology, the Revamp principals were a tour de force in this audio-based workplace and executed a functional design geared towards productivity, flexibility and sound control.

After working in a limited capacity on Sonic Union’s first location in Union Square, Revamp was hired again for the Bryant Park facility, this time with a significantly larger scope of design needs. Here, Revamp designed, selected, and procured all finishes, furnishings, decor, art, lighting, serving ware, and decorative accessories. The Sonic Union culture is simultaneously professional and lighthearted, hence Revamp mirrored that spirit with comfortable and inviting spaces, pops of color, and unique design elements, including a fun phone booth. Ezobord within the space caught our attention too! 

A view of the lounge furnishings

When was the project completed?
March 2018

How much space (SF)?
3,000 SF net

Was this new or renovated space?
Renovation of existing space

The graphic wall treatment mixes Ezobord panels with paint to help dampen sound.

SF per person?
Given an average of 20 people (staff & clients combined) occupying the space daily, it’s about 150 SF per person.

How many employees?
40 total between here and the second location

What is the average daily population?
20 people. Clients are typically at the facility for an entire day or several days, depending on the project.

Is there a mobile work or work from home policy? If so, what percent of employees are remote workers?
About 24 employees spend some of their time in each of Sonic Union’s two NYC locations; client work must, by nature, be conducted in a sound studio at one of their facilities.

Studio B is the largest mix room in this facility

Describe workspace types.
There are 3 types of workspaces here: studios, open plan workstations, and free address space in the lounge and kitchen areas. The 4 mix studios comprise about 1300 SF including the 4 isolated sound booths; here the audio post-production work takes place, typically with clients present in the rooms. Non-engineering staff may settle into a workstation, perch on the counter overlooking the kitchen, or find a spot in the open lounge area. Clients are also encouraged to make themselves comfortable and conduct their own business in the lounge (calls, emails, etc).

What kind of meeting spaces are provided?
There are no enclosed meeting spaces aside from the mix studios, as none are necessary on a regular basis.

Vocal booths

What other kinds of support space or amenity spaces are provided?
In addition to the lounge and 2 snack stations, we designed a small phone booth for individuals to take private calls.

What are the projects location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?
It’s located on 40th street in midtown Manhattan, overlooking Bryant Park and the NYC Public Library’s main branch. Several subway stations are in close proximity.

Pendant lights by Muuto, barstools by Omar De Biaggio via DWR, and sunny yellow tile by Roca.

Was the “C” Suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?
We met regularly with two of the company’s owner/partners, addressing their needs, concerns, and priorities, and adjusting our designs as needed.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used?
Because this is Sonic Union’s second location, they were very clear about their programming needs. Revamp’s challenge was figuring out what they were comfortable with stylistically; with 5 owner-partners and a tight-knit group of employees, there were many opinions to consider.

This snack station is located in a niche between the reception area

Were any pre-planning surveys conducted to get employee input?
Informal conversations with select staff and partners.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?
Not really. We were very conscious of the limited amount of natural light available. Thus the brightest area with the most daylight was allocated for the lounge, where staff, clients, and guests are all welcome to spend time.

Clients can take in the latest video mixes while sitting comfortably behind the engineer.

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?
To accommodate the heightened acoustical needs of an audio production studio, the mix studios have irregular floor plans – most of the walls meet at oblique angles. All walls and ceilings in the mix rooms, as well as the vocal booths, are covered in a wall-to-wall stretched fabric acoustical track system to help mitigate sound. Rugs and window treatments were selected for sound control. The floors in the studios are finished in warm grey wood planks, with carpet in the vocal booths and in the staff workstation area.

For specific examples, please describe the product, how it was used, and if it solved any specific problem.
One example is the staff workstation area: it’s open to the circulation space, kitchen & reception, which has its pros and cons. In order to distinguish this area and aid with the sound, we carpeted the floor and created a graphic wall treatment using ezoBord panels. The design is an abstraction of the star symbol in our client’s logo.

Communal Lounge Space

What products or service solutions are making the biggest impact in your space (i.e. furniture manufacturer brands, task chairs, space reservation systems, etc. Please mention brands and link whenever possible)
Timbur LLC’s precise engineering, fabrication, and installation of RAW-NYC’s plywood cladding design have the biggest visual impact on the space, while everything else added together have the greatest impact on the function and experience. Engineering desks were custom designed by Revamp, task chairs from Allsteel, carpet by Tandus Centiva & FLOR, and furniture from a variety of sources.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?
Revamp took into consideration our client’s existing brand and space, the need to both connect and distinguish this second location from the first, and the location overlooking Bryant Park. Our major aesthetic inspiration, or consideration, was the bright blue plywood cladding that the architect planned for within the space prior to Revamp’s engagement. We were mindful to choose furnishings that would complement, not compete, with this architectural feature. Some finishes were chosen to act as neutral backdrops, and others to augment the blue angular shapes.

The Sonic Union star symbol is emblazoned onto the wall where the elevators are located to welcome clientele, and a similar geometric design is featured on the large wall in the staff area, using paint and Ezobord acoustical panels.

Reception Desk

What is the most unique feature of the new space?
The blue cladding is certainly the most obvious feature! In the lounge area, we added custom felt seat cushions and colorful throw pillows to the faceted “origami” benches built into the blue structure. The architect’s original intention was for the cladding to be bare, with a round painting of water waves on the floor of the lounge. We changed course—adding loose seating, tables, carpet tiles, cushions, and décor—both to aid with the acoustics and to make the space feel welcoming.

Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?
We always consider how to make people feel comfortable in the spaces we design; in this project, there were no specific requests in the programming to promote well-being.

What kinds of technology products were used?
They use Farmer’s Wife for scheduling and Jupiter for the house sound.

If the company relocated to a new space, what was the most difficult aspect of the change for the employees?
It was an expansion, not a relocation. The most difficult aspect was waiting patiently for the construction to finish, as everyone was eager to start booking clients in the new space.

Were there post-occupancy surveys? If so, what were the most surprising or illuminating or hoped-for results?
Not formally. The most impactful results were how Revamp’s touches helped soften the unique architectural feature (blue cladding), adding comfort and brand personality where needed, and creating a cohesive look for these series of spaces.

Tell us More!
Original Layout Creators/Blue Cladding: Raya Ani of RAW-NYC
Architect of Record: Ilan Ohayon of IOAD LLC
Engineer / Fabrictors / Plywood Installators: Timbur LLC
General Contractor: Gateway Builders Construction

Photography courtesy of Travis Mark

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