Creating calm inside a raindrop could be an award-winner

Jennifer Shand Jennifer Shand Australasia Press Office,Sydney
6 April 2020

A ‘giant bubble of solitude’ with an Arup-curated soundscape has been shortlisted for the 2020 Australian Interior Design Awards.

The installation Pause was a feature of last year’s Melbourne Design Week (Design Experiments) giving people respite from their hectic, always-digitally-connected lives.

Visitors surrendered their mobile devices, took a head set, and one at a time, entered the large inflatable fabric cocoon for a unique sensory experience.

“People literally stepped away from the rest of the world and for five minutes, could just ‘be’.  They could relax and let their minds wander, noticing what they could see, hear, smell and feel, without the distracting temptation of their phones,” said Xavier Watson, Arup’s acoustic engineer.

Listen to the soundscape:

Step away from the rest of the world and listen to our soundscape for the Pause installation.

The sounds were designed to help people to separate themselves from the outside world. Our brief was ‘What does it sound like to be inside a raindrop?’ ”

Xavier Watson Acoustic Engineer

“We created a sonic experience inspired by elements of nature, with a sense of moving upwards - from being underwater, then rising from the forest floor to above the tree canopy, hearing the sounds of wind and then ice cracking in the clouds,” he said. 

“The sounds lighten towards the end, helping people to feel calm, but also energised to step out into the real world again.”

Meanwhile, the colours of the installation responded to the soundscape, changing between pink, mauve, blue, green and white. 


Hundreds of people spent time inside Pause. They described the experience as ‘joyful’ and ‘providing a single rare moment of calm’. Many returned for a second time, with one visitor reflecting, “I haven’t had five minutes to myself like that in a very long time.”

Arup’s Acoustic team collaborated with HASSELL, MPA and Eness on the installation along with AllSense, 3Dinflate and Kvadrat Maharam. 

The project has been shortlisted in the Installation Design category. Winners of the AIDA Awards, Australia’s pre-eminent program in design excellence, will be announced on 29 May.

Images courtesy of HASSELL.