Sound design

Sound Design: the creative production and use of sound

In the Sound Design section of Red Dot 21, you will find good examples for how sounds can emphasise a message and can influence our perceptions. In principle, sound design includes everything where sounds or sound universes are created deliberately and for a certain purpose. That can be an acoustic brand identity used in advertising clips, in interface design or even for times when callers are placed on hold on the phone. It can however also include the special sound a product makes or interactive media. Most of us are probably most aware of the use of sound design in films – at least with regard to the soundtrack. Audiences are often less conscious of the more subtle use of sound design in films, even though it has a significant effect on how we experience them. The sound composition conveys a multitude of details at different levels, influences our emotions and sets the scene for certain situations as well as for the entire film. Acoustic experts devote a good deal of time and effort to orchestrating action and sound perfectly, to finding suitable music and sounds that will underpin the images and reinforce the atmosphere. This type of background music was already used in the silent film era. The work involved in creating sounds for animations and apps or videogames that are by their very nature initially similarly silent, as they are produced entirely on the computer, is even greater. Compared to feature films, there are no natural sounds that can be recorded. Instead, even the most insignificant sound has to be added in order to achieve a credible sound. That is the job of the sound designer who either produces the sounds himself or relies on sound archives and then manipulates them.

The sound of things: sound design for products

How influential sound design can be becomes apparent when you realise how frequently industry today relies on it when creating products. Products that are primarily targeted at a male audience sound different, for example, to those aimed at female buyers. While a shaver buzzes in a distinctly male way, an epilator will purr quietly and gently. A sports car has to sound different to an SUV, a luxury limousine different to a compact car; and electric cars don’t have a sound in the first place and need to have one tailor-made. Sound designers devote themselves to creating engine and exhaust noises, as well as the sound of closing doors and indicators. When the design experts of the Red Dot Award: Communication Design jury examine sound design projects, they look for work that has a consistent sound composition, skilfully adapted to the respective application area. These can be creations that credibly translate a brand identity into sounds and have a high recognition factor. Other projects are impressive for their use of sound design to offer users acoustic orientation. Take for instance the acoustic signals used in the realm of interface design. Others again use sounds in order to convey advertising messages not only at an intellectual, but also an emotional level so that they stick in the minds of listeners. Here, in the Red Dot 21 category „Sound Design“, we present brilliant examples of how sound designers use noises and sounds to acoustically shape brand universes and experiences. If you are interested in a particular project, just click on it and you will discover who was responsible for creating it. A link to the designer’s website or the company is generally also included, so that you can listen to many of the projects.