At a Glance
Recording-studio and acoustic design
More than 6
During the 1960s and 1970s, in the glamorous heyday of British rock ’n’ roll, a teenager named Bob Suffolk was working his way through most of London’s major recording studios. He held an assortment of jobs, starting out as a tape op, and spent the next several decades working with legendary musicians just as they were getting their start in the business. And you might think that, with such an illustrious background, Suffolk held aspirations of becoming a rock legend himself. But you’d be wrong.
“I’ve always wanted to be a designer—always,” says Suffolk, founder and head designer behind Suffolk Holloway Design. Today, he has achieved that dream. Along with co-owner, design consultant, and business manager Michelle Holloway Quazi, Suffolk now runs one of the premier recording-studio and acoustic design firms in the world.
The Suffolk Holloway client list includes both big-name studios—one of Suffolk’s first jobs was to redesign Trident Studios in London, once the home of the Beatles—and smaller recording spaces for independent labels. The firm also does home studios—including the Vole Studio for lawyer David Ronn, which Suffolk says is “probably one of the best sounding and aesthetically pleasing studios we’ve designed”—occasional set-production projects for the film industry, and residential and commercial projects.
Top 5 Features of the Vole Studio
1. An aesthetic blend of industrial and art deco styles with some Texas flair helps personalize the space.
2. The room’s multipurpose functionality allows owner David Ronn to use it not only as a professional home-recording studio and rehearsal space but also as a living room, entertainment room, and home theater.
3. Electric glass means that, with the flip of a switch, the control room window can go from clear to opaque.
4. An ELiTE Custom Fabric System from Auralex was chosen by Suffolk and Holloway for its sound and sustainability.
5. “We were so proud it earned a LEED certification,” says Suffolk, a strong proponent of green design.
No matter what size or sort of project a client might want, Suffolk and Holloway approach every one with the same priority: create a unique custom design perfectly tailored to the client’s specific needs. “We do not do cookie-cutter studios,” Suffolk says. Relying on a series of in-depth conversations not only with the owners but also with the musicians, sound engineers, and anyone else who will be using the space, Holloway and Suffolk determine what functions the design has to serve. “We ask them what they see for the space,” Suffolk says. “We want to understand their issues as well as their dreams.” And once the firm has a handle on the pertinent details, the design process begins.
Designing a recording studio is an extremely exacting process, technically speaking. “It’s a science as well as an art,” Suffolk says. “A recording studio is a musical instrument.” A Suffolk Holloway studio design typically incorporates a variety of custom acoustic elements, most of them sustainable, including specialty fabrics, paneling, and acoustic sculpturing. But while the studio’s sound is paramount, there is another equally critical aspect—its look.
Suffolk and Holloway both agree that a studio’s visual aesthetic definitely plays a part in the quality of the music the room produces. “If people are comfortable in the studio, it draws out their creativity,” Suffolk says. “The musicians are pouring their life and soul into their music. They have to love the rooms we create for them.”
Both Suffolk and Holloway are art enthusiasts, which plays a big role in their design process. “We get a lot of our ideas looking at art and by talking art and physics,” Suffolk says. Whether their client is looking for clean modern lines or a funkier retro setting, both designers are adept at couching acoustic technologies in a wide variety of artistic frameworks.
When it comes down to it, what makes Suffolk Holloway stand out is not just its employees’ technical prowess or keen eye for aesthetics. It’s ultimately their ability to take the many aspects of studio design and bring them together in, well, perfect harmony. ABQ