Finalist 2023


Sam Quinn / Supervisors - Dr. Judith Glover & John Cherrey / RMIT University

A story of sound. 3D-printed ceramic tiles improve speech intelligibility and encapsulate the sonic fingerprint of a space.

SoundStamps are made for sound, from sound. This series of 3D printed porcelain tiles improves speech intelligibility via acoustic diffusion. On top of acoustic function, the interior cladding is a vessel for narrative. A moment of sound is captured and encoded into the physical surface pattern.
This example is designed for a restaurant, and the surface pattern is created from the sound of chopping vegetables. It's an ode to the practice of food preparation.

Countering the common practice of hiding away acoustic panels, this series gives a hierarchy to sound as something to celebrate.

Design Brief:

An interior acoustic cladding piece is to be designed, intended for small-medium venues. A wall-mounted support structure will hold 3D printed clay tiles which enhance the acoustics of speech-critical spaces such as classrooms, libraries, co-working spaces, restaurants, and cafes. The outcome will not only provide acoustic function for the client but act as a storytelling device - an ode to the lived experience of the space.

Design Constraints:

  1. Must utilise the advantages of the 3D clay printing method.
  2. Must present the opportunity for narrative.
  3. The encoding of narrative should be site-specific, with a design process which enables ease of customisation via inputting real-world inputs into a generative script.
  4. Must limit the use of permanent fixings, adhesives and synthetic or composite materials. This enables ease of modification and repair, leading to a more circular and sustainable product.
  5. Must be structurally sound, easy to install and transport.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

This project began as a deep exploration of ceramic 3D printing and data physicalisation. Countless hours of print testing and prototyping was undertaken to discover the limits and hidden attributes of the method, such as intentional layer failure and translucency. Early developments converted hand movements into ceramic vase objects. Outcomes converted the gestures of music into physical objects, as well as creating an ink printing object which allowed the transmission of dance choreography. Over 12 months of research, it began to move from an experimental project into a more functional design outcome. A deep dive into parametric modelling, toolpath creation, and acoustic engineering simulation was undertaken.

A final production process has been developed. First, a base tile form can be arrayed in order to fit the specific acoustic needs of a space. This can be modelled to calculate the theoretical impact this would have on the acoustics of a space such as reverb time. An inputted sound, recorded via spectrograph can then drive a generative script, creating a surface pattern on the desired array. The array is modelled and converted into separate print files (toolpaths), to be sent to a robotic printer. A specific clay preparation process has been developed for repeatability. Each tile is unique, creating an overall pattern. This overall pattern is a unique sonic fingerprint of the space in which it sits.

Design Excellence

While physical validation is still needed, initial acoustic simulations shows a promising intersection between 3D printed ceramics and acoustic treatment. High reductions in reverberation time were determined, as well as increased speech clarity and transmission. The piece is accessible as it has the ability to tell narratives of sounds which are often unnoticed. Any sound can be utilised and imputed into the script at different scales. A short sound may cover an entire wall, or a snippet of sound might be recorded onto a single tile, making a mosaic of unique stories.

Aesthetically, this piece draws from the history of architectural adornment and intrudentesi design, utilising a cross section inspired by the ‘f-hole’ seen in stringed instruments. The tiles can be arrayed and rotated to create a multitude of visual effects based on the context and client desire. The hanging system can be scaled up, utilising a modular methodology. The piece is designed as a wall piece but may be slightly altered to create a hanging screening system of light and sound. This would allow the piece to be utilised by an interior designer to section a space in an elegant fashion. Due to the time spent refining the printing process, the outcomes are extremely well printed with high resolution. Due to the limited synthetic additives, a damaged or unused piece can be broken down and reincorporated into the production of new tiles.

The hanging system has been designed without permanent adhesives or fixtures to ease and encourage circularity. The major communication delivered by this project is that 3D clay printing can mass-produce unique design objects which can be scaled to large public and private works. The project aims to tell contemporary stories using modern methods, continuing on the rich history of ceramics and architectural adornment.

Design Innovation

This project takes a snippet of sound as an input to create a physical object. As the physical and digital worlds continue to become less binary, this project shows how digital data can be used to create beautiful, physical, tactile objects. Objects which can tell a story.

Design Impact

Design is generally ocurlarcentric, especially with the rise of digital interaction. Soundstamps brings stories of sound to our vision, and thus hierarchy, whilst encouraging touch and improving sonic wellbeing (by improving speech intelligibility). This project aims to be an example of using physicalisation and 3D printing to create commercially feasible outcomes. The world of clay 3D printing is young, but rapidly growing. This project aims to show that Melbourne is a key player in modern and experimental manufacturing methods.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

A modular support structure has been developed, allowing the fixing of tiles to a space without adhesives. This means tiles can easily be removed for repair or recycling. As the project moves forward, additional waste streams could be incorporated into the production process. Waste streams such as metal production, drinking water supply, or soil remediation could be utilised to bring new textural and colourful outcomes.

Student Design 2023 Finalists


Maneet Singh / RMIT University


Chetan Shastri / Alfred Health / RMIT University

Ngulu Djeembana (The Gathering of Voices)

Shao Tian Teo / Taylor Ristevski / Alexander Barr / Dr Christine Phillips (RMIT Design Studio Leader) / Stasinos Mantzis (RMIT Design Studio Leader) / Professor N'arwee't Carolyn Briggs AM (Boonwurrung Elder/RMIT Design Studio Leader) / RMIT University

Rift Snowboards - Sustainable Snowboard Design

Harvey Edmanson / RMIT University

Forces Of Nature

Designed by He Huang and Zhengxi Xian / Commissioned by Lyons Architecture / RMIT University

Technology of Interactions (ToI)

Jian Shin See / Monash University

SAF.ER - Solar Aqua Filter Emergency Response

Zoë Ryan-Ferdowsian / Chung Hei Heidi Chan / Kristian Slatter-Jensen / Zach Daniells / RMIT University

Project Shift

Trystan Paderno / RMIT University

Ver - Post-op Recovery for Transgender Individuals

Lily Geyle / Swinburne University of Technology

The Homeless Project

Katarina Kopecka / Swinburne University of Technology

YANA: You Are Not Alone

Jacqueline Johnstone / Monash University

Kennett River Tower

Lachlan Hartnett - RMIT University, School of Architecture and Urban Design / Tutors: Mietta Mullaly, Jack Heatley and James Cosgrave


Alessia Tsolakis / Monash University


Sherine Yonarto / Elizabeth Amanda / Supervisor - Frank Feltham / RMIT University

A Speculative Circular Economy Innovation

Dawei Cao / RMIT University