Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smoke Break 365

Acoustical Partition constructed from discarded cigarette Boxes.

Designer: Benjamin Keddy

365 Cigarette Boxes: $0

1 Eco-Bond 10.1 oz.
Ultra Clear Adhesive (2-Pack): $12.96/unit

1 Bolt of Felt: $30.00

This arced acoustical wall partition is designed to diffuse standing waves in sonically reflective or “live” environments, such as schools, offices, and other indoor spaces where noise can be an issue. The lid of each box is bent flush against the back and glued into place creating two uneven spaces for sound waves to propagate and diffuse allowing for a more noise-free work space. The curvature of each partition physically isolates the individual or group of people from ambient noise sources. An added layer of felt attenuates sound as it reaches the diffuser for a less reactive listening space. Partitions could be placed in library environments, communal study spaces, and in an open floor office workplace. Additional applications include audio production settings where sound reflections can lead to audio masking and phase cancellation, a common problem issue to be considered in both monitoring/recording environments.

As free-standing modular units, multiple partitions can easily be joined together to cover more surface area in larger spaces and can be configured to provide varying degrees of enclosure to the individual. The use of found cigarette boxes in mass serves to raises the issue of how common smoking still is in our communities. Without supporting the tobacco industry and using the mass of residual waste, the partition also conveys a message that quantifies the amount of tobacco that a pack-a-day smoker puts into their lungs over the course of one year.

Because the bulk of the construction requires only lightweight, collapsible boxes, lightweight felt and sealant, materials are easily transported by a single person. Due to its minimal, uniform components, construction steps are relatively simple to follow and only require that the assembler take note of two different box positions. Felt is precut to fit evenly against one side of the partition and can be bonded easily in place by using the sealant.

Although the construction and access to found cigarette boxes in mass perhaps suggests that materials be procured in an urban location, the partition is designed for versatility and can be distributed anywhere in the world. Because it is also used to raise a further awareness of the health issues related to smoking, it would likely have the greatest impact in a community that still has a significantly high population of smokers.

One could perhaps argue that the use of cigarette boxes actually promotes smoking by relying on the purchase of cigarettes to acquire the discarding the box. Because the work is designed without any direct relationship to individuals who smoke, this is not the case. Additionally, the feature of warning labels on these boxes will repeatedly convey messages that serve to dissuade its observers from smoking by highlighting the obvious health issues.

Each unit will come with a small plaque that contextualizes the rationale for its name and construction, informing the viewer that the space taken up by the unit is relatively proportional to the mass of smoked tobacco that is taken into the lungs of a pack-a-day smoker over the course of a full year.

Example #1

Example #2

Example #3


  1. I really like the aesthetics of this piece, but I would question the conceptual use of the cigarette box as a sound dampener. Perhaps the form is more important than the content of the box, so covering up the logo and warning label may be a solution.

  2. Like we were talking about in class last week, I think the element which warns about the dangers of smoking distracts from two other very rich discussions going on: interrupting sound in social space, as well as constructing a striking public visual out of discarded material. If you are interested in why people continue to smoke even thought the word is out about the health risks, I think you would need to expand the conversation to larger systemic issues like distribution/access to of wealth, education or other issues of class discrepancy.

  3. The weight of the connotation we associate with cigarettes is the only impediment I see with this object/intervention. I think the actual form and end goal is a perfect use, the shape of the box would work perfectly.

    Perhaps another similar material (used post consumption) could steer this project back into the actual idea of reuse and sound relation to space. Uncanny idea!

  4. I mentioned this during class, and we talked about it later... but to reiterate, the interest in this project is the strength of the designed object - the cigarette box - and how it is slowly moving toward extinction. Just like hobo art and the cigar box, we're getting to a place where reusing old objects as a "green" solution can constitute a critique in and of itself - the strange juxtaposition between reusing and the tobacco smell that comes from the structure seems very interesting.

  5. Perhaps a redirection of the sound panels could yield some other interesting results. I don't quite believe that anyone, especially non-smokers, would invest so much time in gathering discarded cigarette boxes. Perhaps you could make this a joint project for smokers: these sound panels could be transformed into temporary shelters for outdoor smokers, and the sound dampening qualities play with the guilt that most smokers (I'm projecting here) have of the action. You are more likely to save up cigarette boxes if you implement some collection device near smoking areas, so the smokers could, in a sense, be building both a shelter and a hiding space for themselves while at the same time "feeling better" about their environmental impact by recycling their boxes.


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