TechNotes: Design Trends in Home Entertainment

When I first studied architecture 20 years ago, we were taught that room layouts are designed around focal points. The two focal points we have designed around since the dawn of time are fireplaces and windows (for the views). This is because for thousands of years all there was to look at was the fireplace and the view.When television started to enter the mainstream some 60 years ago, designers believed it was unsophisticated to design a space around a TV set. Many considered sitting down to watch TV was an unrefined use of idle time. In many finer homes, this line of thinking often caused TVs to be relegated to armoires where they could be closed away when not in use. As the medium has matured, the caliber and quantity of programming has increased to the point where the average American spends more than two hours a day watching TV.At this point, I think it’s safe to assume that television is not a passing fad. The same will most likely hold true for that little thing known as the Internet as well. For the most part, Americans live around their media when they are at home. Rich or poor, large house or small, almost all people watch TV.I have found that there are two kinds of people—those who admit that they watch TV, and those who say “…we don’t watch TV.” My experience in the industry has revealed that most people who say they “don’t watch TV” actually watch much more TV than they may have realized.With that said, we are finally seeing the design community come to terms with the fact that television is here to stay. That does not mean that people want the huge TV of the 1990s, the huge speakers of the 1970s and a stack of electronics to be the focal point of their family room.This is where SoundVision can help. Our role in the design process is to work with the client and/or designer to elegantly integrate the TV into a tasteful room design. We can recess the TV over a fireplace to maintain a traditional room layout, or conceal it behind motorized artwork so that it virtually disappears when not in use. We can install speakers in walls or ceiling to minimize the aesthetic impact. We can hide electronics in cabinetry or in other rooms so they are not in view. We can eliminate multiple remote controls and replace them with a singe remote that controls all devices and works through walls and doors.The good news is that we can help create a blend of design and technology that allows our clients to enjoy the benefits of this cutting-edge entertainment, without having to live with the eyesore.

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