Does anybody know much about product sound design?



Hey Everyone...

Just thought I'd ask that, as it is a field that doesn't seem to be discussed much. (at least on the net)

At the moment I'm (very slowly) doing an engineering degree through the OU and from the little I've heard about, it sounds fascinating. I'd like to find out a bit more about it and find out how one would go about getting into it...

I digress. I've come across these 2 articles:


There's also a school, Technical Uni of Delft, in The Netherlands that teaches it:

And all of a sudden I've realised that there's a whole world of people who design the sounds of button clicks on coffee machines, car door closing thunks, toaster pop up sounds etc...

Just an open question to anyone out there: 'What do you know about it?'


Kurt Human

Posted 2010-07-22T13:56:06.703

Reputation: 825

And another interesting article...skip the first few paragraphs and see comments.

– Kurt Human – 2010-07-22T14:05:56.527



I recently saw a video - apologies, I don't have the link - of a bunch of product designers that were working on how bottle shape changes how poured beer sounds.

This is closely related to other fields and specific disciplines: sonic product branding, sensorial product design, functional cartography, and more. I've been doing this for virtual products - meaning software - for quite some time. But in terms of physical products, the more physics you know, the better.

In the last 4 years or so industrial, product, graphic, and emotional design in products has just crawled out from under the thumb of engineering-led organizations to really be seen as differentiators in the marketplace and can have huge influence on purchasing decisions. My impression is that sound design for physical products hasn't made this climb yet, and I'd be pretty surprised if any except a handful of companies worldwide are willing to apply significant budgets to such sound design activities. Those who do will be the category and thought leaders in their industries, as your links have shown.

If you go this route, be one of those that pushes this to the forefront of product design!


Posted 2010-07-22T13:56:06.703

Reputation: 11 088

Thanks for the encouragement....I'm totally torn. I'm in love with all sorts of sound. And machines.

And this slow burn engineering degree has got me thinking (Industrial design and physics are big features in my course)

Anyway, I was hoping we could have more of a discussion around this topic on this site, as most of the reading to be found on the topic seems to involve a lot of Adspeak. (Which because of my job, prior to sound, as a tv commercials directors assistant/bitch makes me hurl...HARD)

I'd love to hear more from the other guys here and I'll be posting more stuff I find out. – Kurt Human – 2010-07-22T15:43:40.213

If you've got this specialty in mind, own it. Make it your own. I suspect it's a small industry with big name players, but if you focus on it like a laser, you'll get in and do great things. Check into what firms have big R&D or consumer research departments - I know Whirlpool here in the US has a whole next-gen design group around such things. That's where forward thinking will be rewarded! – NoiseJockey – 2010-07-22T16:08:08.277


While I don't have any experience in the field, your question reminded me of this TED video I saw last year: [youtube]rRepnhXq33s[/youtube]

It's clearly a field that Mr. Treasure believes is burgeoning. Here's some more from him and his agency.

Steve Urban

Posted 2010-07-22T13:56:06.703

Reputation: 6 009

Thanks Steve!

I'm going to look at more links and resources. From what I've seen, this idea of physical sound design also tiesmin with architechtural acoustics.

(Anyway, I will post more things as I find them. There's definitely a tie-in with this field and the more extreme aspects o SFX/ foley recording that would ne interesting to explore.) – Kurt Human – 2010-07-23T08:54:20.113


Hello everybody and Kurt. Product sound design is a growing field that we follow closely on Personally I'm working on quite a lot of projects on product sound design with my agency, Lorelei (, only in Italian i'm sorry!). We are working a lot on one of the main product sound design issue at the moment...Electric cars! you can find an article on sounDesign blog in English about that. You can find more info also checking out the SID-Cost action, a European Community program on Sonic interaction design where product sound design is quite important. In all these cases, we are not designer but sound designers. Designing the sound of a product is really a challenge because it involves a lot of different technical fields, not only sounds as you all mentioned before. I love it, anyway. The industry interest in designing sounds for their user interfaces on purpose is growing fast. Normally what they are interest in is coupling a well designed feedback sound with a branded sound which represent their brand. I think what we are lacking more at the moment is datas on the efficency of product sound design: what is a well-designed sound? How much will a sound logo influence your clients? how much will it increase your sales? This is what i'm normally asked for when I discuss prodcut sound design with my clients.

Sara Lenzi

Posted 2010-07-22T13:56:06.703

Reputation: 41

Hi Sara Thank you for the info and the link to your page. I will definitely read up more about what you do.

I will also add to my daily reading list. – Kurt Human – 2010-07-23T17:15:26.800