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The former sneaker designer is making sustainable ceilings out of old, thrown-away shoes: 'A real joy'

"In my career, I have worked on hundreds of shoes for Nike, Jordan, Converse and other brands."

Acoustic ceilings Air baffle

Photo Credit: Kireiusa

An innovative approach to the production of acoustic ceilings has been introduced by Kirei, a California-based sustainable materials designer specializing in acoustics. 

The product, named Air Baffle, repurposes materials from shoes and water bottles that may have otherwise ended up in landfills to create functional sound baffles. Baffles are used in auditoriums and other rooms to absorb sounds bouncing off hard flat walls, floors, or ceilings to increase speech intelligibility and sound clarity.

The design of these baffles was inspired by the top-selling Nike Air Max, as reported by Inhabitat

This inspiration can be seen distinctively in the oval-shaped window that is featured on both the Air Baffle and at the bottom of the Nike Air Max. 

This window, which is an optional design feature of the Air Baffle, is more than just an ode to the iconic look of the Air Max, however. It is made of an indoor air quality certified co-polyester resin that allows for a view of the revolutionary product's interior materials, the sustainable nature of which is no accident. 

The product designer of the Air Baffle is Michael DiTullo, who worked alongside many major brands before assuming the role of creative director at Kirei in 2019. 

"In my career, I have worked on hundreds of shoes for Nike, Jordan, Converse and other brands," said DiTullo. "It was a real joy to design a product that helps rescue those shoes from the landfill at the end of their useful life as footwear and find a new, long-lasting use case for them as a visually striking architectural acoustic product."

So how exactly does this product effectively use recycled shoes and water bottles

Air Baffle takes advantage of the acoustic properties of recycled plastic and enhances them with acoustic foam made from Nike Grind fluff, which is a mix of recycled materials created from Nike's end-of-life footwear. Nike has recycled over 140 million pounds of Grind fluff since 1992, according to the sneaker giant's website

The Air Baffle is also easy for users to install with no added assembly and a simple installation system using suspension cables and mounting hardware. 

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