Leon Speakers Acquires Media Décor for Ultimate Tech/Design Portfolio
Leon, makers of ultra-custom loudspeakers, acquires Media Décor, manufacturer of ‘moving art’ for concealing TVs.
Julie Jacobson · October 10, 2013
Leon Speakers, known for turning speakers into works of art, has acquired Media Décor, developer of motorized art pieces for hiding TVs and other unsightly objects.
Leon CEO Noah Kaplan tells CE Pro, “We plan to grow Media Décor 100 percent in one year and own the category within five years.”
Media Décor is one of a few niche players in the category of “moving art,” which includes VisionArt, Vutec’s ArtScreen and Stealth Acoustics’ Cover Art.
It is Leon’s first acquisition and a perfect match, given Kaplan’s passion for blending “art with audio, design with technology.”
Kaplan and Media Décor co-founder Jonathan Graham grew up in the custom industry – Leon is 16 years old; Media Décor is 10 – and both have a passion for design and craftsmanship.
The duo has worked together over the years to meld Leon speakers with Media Décor frames. The latest collaboration is the Edge line of TV frames with a built-in soundbar.
The product, says Kaplan, will redefine how we think about TVs and speakers: “It used to be that you attach speakers to the TV; now you attach the TV to speakers.”
The all-inclusive Edge frame is affixed to a wall, and then you “literally drop in the TV,” says Kaplan, nothing that the frame obscures all those unsightly wires and hardware that you can see across the “edges” of the TV.
Interestingly, as you first enter the Leon offices in Ann Arbor, Mich., the first piece of art is a vintage Philco Predicta TV perched atop an integrated speaker. Kaplan says the Edge harkens back to that integrated design, calling the new system “a modern-day media console.”
The Edge - a collaboration of Leon Speakers and Media Decor
Why Buy? Why Not Build?
Leon has an ample factory, sizable administrative staff, talented engineers and a captive dealer base. Furthermore, Kaplan himself is an artist with a large network of artistic friends who could develop the artwork for motorized screens. So why not develop a Media Décor-type of organization within Leon?
Kaplan says Leon has tried to create a few like-minded products, such as the Edge, in-house but “our factory really isn’t optimized for that.”
Furthermore, not until he visited Media Décor in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., did Kaplan fully grasp the engineering that goes into these products and the dedication of Media Décor’s lean staff.
“The craftsmen are true masters,” he says.
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Beyond that, Media Décor works closely with interior designers, builders and architects and those relationships are multiplied through the company’s close relationship with Lutron, which makes motors for Media Decor. Relationships in the design community can definitely benefit Leon.
At the same time, Leon can bring a fresh energy to the company, including a modern approach to marketing.
Kaplan was astonished to learn of the creative things Media Décor is doing – like commissioning original artwork for some screens – since those capabilities are not readily obvious.
The synergies, says Kaplan, are obvious and Leon is already streamlining operations and working to jazz up marketing for a new line of products under the division Leon Media Décor.
Leon has experimented over the years with TV-oriented solutions beyond speakers (my favorite is the easel mount) and Kaplan sees the new Leon Media Décor as “a whole new genre of products we’re going to build.”
Kaplan himself will run the new company while principals Graham and Judith Sexton remain as integral players.
Will other acquisitions follow? None currently is in the works but you can almost hear Kaplan’s brain churning out the next category for Leon to exploit in the technology-meets-design department.
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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