Jack Rainey and his team at Chesapeake Systems Service want to change the traditional relationship between custom builders and technology integrators. That’s why the Maryland-based integration firm recently built the 1,800-square foot CSS Experience Center — an Elan, SpeakerCraft and CinemaTech-packed model apartment that includes a full living room, dining room, kitchen, and 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos home theater.
The space, according to Rainey, shows custom build professionals that sophisticated in-home technology is not an inhibitor of luxury, but an enhancer.
“Usually, integrators cater directly to their clients during a project, and in doing so, they work around builders, architects and designers. Our CSS Experience Center helps to change the narrative,” says Rainey. “We designed a high-end showroom that demonstrates how sophisticated technology can seamlessly —and invisibly —integrate into a custom build.”
The CSS Experience Center is built with the intention for visitors, such as custom build professionals as well as end-user customers, to experience the technology without seeing it. All integrated tech was designed to be “invisible,” with a television tucked behind motorized wall art, and blended in-ceiling speakers.
The point is that the technology is able to enhance the homeowner experience, without disturbing a home’s design—a common misconception for builders and homeowners alike.
CSS Experience Center Uses Flexible Tech to Tell a Story
CSS installed an Elan gSC10 Controller to serve as the home's control 'hub,' which controls invisible thermostats, a full QMotion dual hardwired shading system, a SpeakerCraft MRA-664 Multi-Room Audio System with invisible speakers, a custom 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos home theater designed by CinemaTech, and an “invisible” television hidden behind retracting artwork.
“We can press one button on an Elan HR200 remote or flushed-in Elan TP7 touch panel, and the shades will open, the 85-inch Sony TV will appear from behind an art piece, and the home theater will power up. It’s extremely impressive, especially for visiting builders and architects who could not detect the room’s technology while hidden,” says Rainey.
The space also has dual functionality for full sales presentations targeting builders, architects and even end-users.
“The dining room, and the technology inside it, was built to be extremely flexible,” says Rainey. “We incorporated high color-rendition index lighting so that we can turn the dining room table into a conference room table, and use it as a meeting space if need be. High-end tech facilitates multi-functionality.”
According to Rainey, the CSS Experience Center is critical for the future of technology integration as it relates to the custom builder market.
“It is so hard to talk about any kind of control conceptually,” he says. “I can sit with a builder for an hour and explain how the Elan system can lift shades and turn on the lights instantly. But with an experience center, we ‘show’ instead of ‘tell.’ It’s all about the experience, and we’re excited to create that instead of just talking about it.”
“Smart homes are here to stay, and an increasing number of technology integrators are expanding their business into the builder channel,” adds Bret Jacob, director of builder sales, Core Brands. “The CSS Experience Center lives up to its name in that it's not a traditional showroom. Rather, it's a dynamic home environment that lets visitors experience the 'wow' of smart home automation.”
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