Manufacturing Reality

Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Few things in life are more satisfying than making someone’s vision turn into reality, and few companies realize this like Decoustics. A world-respected manufacturer of custom interior architectural acoustical ceiling panels, wall panels, and the revolutionary LightFrame© translucent fabric system, for over 40 years the Toronto-area business has remained the industry leader, with its visually stunning and practical designs showcased everywhere from airports to auditoriums, universities, offices, casinos, hotels, and many other locations.
“We are literally realizing an architect’s dream, and we work really hard trying to make some other things happen that most people would think are unthinkable, or unrealistic, and bring them to life,” says Simone Abele, Director of Sales and Marketing at Decoustics. With a massive manufacturing space exceeding 65 000 square feet, the company’s full-time staff of 100 dedicated employees is able to take on a diverse range of services for clients, including custom designs and engineering and project management.

Today, ceilings are often a key architectural element in the design of a structure’s interior. Realizing this, the team at Decoustics is very often engaged with clients early on in the design process to satisfy the vision of the architect and work to fulfill their artistic vision while meeting acoustical requirements. A key part of the overall plan, architects often work with lighting consultants as part of a team.

Utilizing ‘lean’ manufacturing methods and processes, Decoustics strives to incorporate recycled materials into its high quality products while limiting waste. The company holds certifications with GreenCircle Certified, LLC — which was established to ensure third-party environmental claims — for all of its products, with recycled content of the Decoustics’ products ranging from 38 percent to 73 percent.

Decades of industry experience
Earning a reputation for quality, selection, and on-time and on-budget project delivery, and meeting the exacting needs of all customers through unparalleled customer service, Decoustics was founded back in 1975. Today, it is an integral part of the CertainTeed® Ceiling group — the North American leader in siding, decking, roofing, fence, insulation, railing, trim, gypsum, ceilings and other interior and exterior building products — and under the umbrella of Saint-Gobain. A legendary multinational company founded in Paris, Saint-Gobain remains an industry giant in the production of high-performance construction materials, and celebrated its 350th anniversary last year.

At Decoustics’ state-of-the-art facility, every project is custom-designed to meet, and often exceed, the exacting specifications of clients. There is no ‘off the shelf’ system, as all products are custom-made utilizing the talents of engineers who create ceilings and walls which are then installed. Much like the superior ceiling and walls created by Decoustics, the company’s dedicated, skilled staff consists of long-time employees — some of them with the business for decades — with 30 nationalities represented. “We recently celebrated diversity day, and it’s interesting because I don’t think you would find that anywhere else in the world, where you have 30 nationalities amongst 100 people,” says Abele.

The innovative LightFrame system
Known across the globe for its magnificent architectural acoustical ceiling panels, wall panels and systems, Decoustics’ commitment to the needs of its clients comes through in LightFrame. Originally introduced to the market just over three years ago, LightFrame is a unique, translucent fabric ceiling and wall system with light transmission rates up to 85 percent, and NRC values up to 0.9. Utilizing precision monofilament fabric from SEFAR — the world’s leading manufacturer of precision monofilaments used in screen printing and filtration for a range of industries — light is optimised, natural, and without shifts in colour.

“The overall objective is that the illumination is as seamless as possible,” comments Abele. “What our clients are looking for is an even illumination, very few shadow lines, to have a contemporary, overall seamless look.” For ultimate flexibility, LightFrame is able to be incorporated into Decoustics’ advanced Ceilencio ceiling suspension system, for the ultimate in design flexibility and functionality. In addition to providing the ultimate in acoustical performance, the Ceilencio suspension system grid installs with ease. Every panel has its own position within the grid, and 100 percent full downward accessibility makes it ideal for maintenance crews who can access the plenum and put ceiling panels back into place without them being crooked or wobbling.

Utilizing the next generation of high-tech fabrics from SEFAR, which are not only luxurious to the eye but incorporate unique coatings to guard against ultraviolet (UV) light and fading, all materials used in LightFrame high-performance ceiling and wall systems are durable, long-lasting, and safe. In addition to providing extremely high acoustical performances — from whence the company name Decoustics comes — all LightFrame fabrics have a Class A fire performance according to ASTM E84, one of the largest voluntary standards organizations. All Decoustics products are tested in a third-party laboratory to ensure the appropriate credentials are met.

A range of unique projects worldwide
Never one to shy away from challenges, Decoustics continues to take on substantial projects, some of them requiring years of effort. One such work is Edmonton’s Rogers Place. Initiated in 2012, the site is home to the legendary Edmonton Oilers and opened its doors last October 12th in the city’s downtown. Decoustics’ Claro custom panels are seen inside the Ford Hall (formerly the Winter Garden) grand atrium entrance. The result is simply stunning, with almost 33 000 square feet of pre-curved ceiling panels creating a dynamic look to the interior. “Designed to provide an airy, open feel, while ensuring ease of access for maintenance, Claro panels integrate into Decoustics’ 100 percent downward accessible Ceilencio ceiling suspension system,” said the company in a release.

By using pre-curved panels manufactured from absorptive material in Rogers Place, Decoustics achieved a remarkable sound reverberation rate of just three seconds. As with other projects, Rogers Place was an exercise in teamwork for Decoustics, who worked with a number of respected architects and designers, including global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK. Coated with a delicate stipple texture to simulate the appearance of drywall or plaster, almost 1 200 panels were manufactured and installed by Decoustics, which precisely accommodate over 600 light fixtures of different dimensions. As a result, the company’s panels are not only aesthetic but innovative, as the Decoustics Claro panel (which can be custom-coloured to match paint chip samples and is well-suited for areas requiring indirect lighting), is able to “achieve a 90 percent reflectance on the standard white (CSW-100), and the finish provides a monolithic appearance that can be used in both ceiling and wall applications.”

Impressed with the outstanding products supplied by Decoustics, the Rogers Place installation contractor, Superintendent Mark Dorwart of T Bar Mark Inc., stated the final product reflected the vision of the architectural firm. “The accuracy and consistency of the Decoustics product was impressive,” he said.

Another recent outstanding achievement for the company was its work on the Calgary International Airport. Much like Rogers Place in Edmonton, the international facilities project at the airport was a lengthy one, requiring considerable time, effort, and expertise. Some projects take months, including weeks to create precise drawings; others can take several years. Depending on the project’s size and duration, Decoustics will allow for partial shipment or partial installation. In this instance, the company was responsible for the manufacture of Solo Planks, a member of its striking line of wood acoustical products, which can be custom-matched to client request. This product comes in natural wood finishes such as beech, oak, cherry, mahogany, ash, maple, walnut, and even angire.

Taking on projects in sectors including hospitals, arenas, airports, restaurants, casinos, schools, and offices, the company is working on a number of projects in the United States, Canada, The Middle East, and other locations worldwide. One is the Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel’s main hub and the busiest in the country. To be completed this year, the project will consist of Claro, making it ideal for use in the airport.

As the industry evolves and customer requirements change, Decoustics is proud to remain ahead of the competition. Since its products are all custom-made, its clientele is discerning, wanting only the finest LightFrame translucent fabric systems, wall panels, and architectural acoustical ceiling panels available.

“Our inspiration often comes from a client, or through discussion with people in the industry,” says Abele, stating that recent years have seen considerable opportunities for three-dimensional ceilings, and various designs and applications for baffles on open ceilings. At Decoustics, the company not only must meet a range of requirements — including LEED, environmental, health, and building codes — but meet and exceed the goals of the client.



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