Fellert North America
Hard surfaces can create an acoustical nightmare in buildings with tall ceilings and vast open spaces. For years, architects and designers have struggled with this and creating a space that not only sounds good, but looks good. Traditional acoustical panel and grid systems can do the job, but are often unattractive, taking away from the building’s character.
Fellert North America (Fellert), the company behind the Fellert Acoustical Ceiling, is changing all of that with a system that’s perfect from a design and performance standpoint. “Our system produces a noise reduction coefficient [NCR] of .90 – it’s pretty incredible,” says Mark Clough, president of Fellert.
Clough, who’s been involved in selling acoustical products for 37 years, says he’s never seen a product – and a recycled one at that – achieve what Fellert can. “For years architects and designers have used panel and grid systems, but hated them because while functional, they look very commercial and not very design forward,” he explains. “The Fellert system delivers something that looks like traditional plaster and drywall without gridlines, joints or seams – it’s a nice clean, monolithic look, but highly sound absorbent.”
Cracking the acoustical ceiling problem
The acoustical headache continued for many years until the 1990s. “We started to see some first-generation products come out of Europe in the late 1980s, early 1990s,” tells Clough. “It was the first attempt at a monolithic, highly absorbent system, but because they were so rigid and hard, as buildings settled and moved the acoustical system would crack.”
That was before John Fellert, founder of Fellert and Swedish construction company owner, created a superior system. “He owned and operated a construction company that actually installed the first generation systems,” recounts Clough. “He thought he could invent something that was less expensive and also crack-resistant, but still absorb sound.”
With this idea as the platform, Fellert launched out of Sweden in 1990 and was welcomed with great reception from architects. “The product eventually found its way to North America,” shares Clough. “That’s where our company signed the contract to be the exclusive North American distributor of the product in 2006 and the rest is really history. Since 2006, Fellert has grown steadily and our biggest challenge is just increasing awareness of the product in the architectural field.”
From the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Fellert is making its mark in the acoustical industry throughout the country and doing so with a focus on fully natural raw and recycled materials.
“Our plaster is actually made of recycled cotton,” reveals Clough. “It’s produced from the byproducts of the manufacturing process and from stuff like old cotton towels and t-shirts. The plaster mixes with water and is sprayed over a fiberglass substrate.”
The result is a plaster finish that looks and feels like finished drywall, but easily allows sound to penetrate into the highly absorbent fiberglass layer. “Because Fellert’s core component is recycled cotton, the Fellert Acoustical Plaster system will flex and resist cracking as buildings settle…and it’s recycled content can help with LEED certification,” explains Clough.
Furthermore, Fellert’s solutions include all necessary certificates for both public environments and private homes. The system also lends considerable flexibility in different colors, textures or shapes to achieve acoustical excellence without compromising design.
Reaching new heights
Throughout North America, Clough says Fellert has certified installers, working to bring better acoustics to a range of facilities. A shining example is 3,300 square meters of new acoustical construction for the landmark Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (Kauffman Center) in Kansas City.
“We host a once a month training program and you must be trained to install the product,” he says. “We now have a wide network of installers in the U.S. and across the world.”
As a public building welcoming hundreds of people daily, the Kauffman Center had stringent demands on acoustics. Fellert’s assignment was to provide freedom of design for the large and expansive ceilings, but also rein in the acoustics in an environment that’s primarily made of stone, metal and glass.
From Kansas City, to the nation’s capital, Fellert is reaching new heights in acoustical excellence. “In Washington, D.C., we completed the United States Capitol Visitors Center with a navy blue colored plaster, rather unique from the typical white installations and a fit for the centers overall design and theme,” notes Clough.
Fellert has been influential in other government facilities, showrooms, theaters, restaurants, offices, airports, hospitals and residences with the philosophy that each project has its own culture and form of expression.
No two spaces are exactly alike, from the look, feel and sound of the space. Moving forward, 2015 marks 25 years since John Fellert founded the innovative company with this notion. Fellert North America is protecting unique architectural design while enhancing and improving acoustical environments.
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