Integrator at CEDIA 2017: The Year When Design Triumphed

At CEDIA 2017, the home-technology industry’s big show, exhibitors showcased fresh audio/video designs that blend with the environment … or stand out as works of art.

David Haddad
Photos & Slideshow

Smart manufacturers for the home-technology channel have long worked to make their products integrate aesthetically into home owners' environments. But as I walked CEDIA 2017 it struck me just how far those efforts have come, with manufacturers designing technology to sometimes blend seamlessly into the environment, at other times stand out with beautiful high-end finishes, and still other times amaze by appearing to be something else entirely than what it actually is.

We saw big speakers with tiny openings from Sonance, bold designs from B&O that makes speakers look like wall art, and customizable wraps to disguise large, powerful outdoor speakers.

For me, the most amazing product of the show aesthetically was Samsung's “The Frame” televisions. The televisions look like art when not in use. And when I say “look like art,” I don't just mean they display an image that happens to be art when not in use, I mean the TV looks so much like a painting hanging on a wall, that's exactly what the average person walking into a room with one will think it is. 

Samsung Frame TV at CEDIA 2017

New products this radically different often seem to miss some important feature, but Samsung seems to have thought of everything to pull it off.

The backlight is automatically adjusted based on the amount of light in the room. This solves the problem of the art looking like a lit up photo on a TV. The viewer does not perceive the image as being backlit.

The bezel is available in several finishes to match the decor and magnetically snap on and off so they can easily be swapped. When using the included mounting bracket there is also no gap between the frame and the wall, just like with a regular picture frame.

The size, color and style of the matte board that surrounds the image can be adjusted to match the room. If a 3-D bevel is applied it's so real you swear you see an edge, as you can see in the image below.

The wow factor of the product is high and I foresee many proud owners wowing their friend as they reveal that the painting on the wall is actually a television.

Check the slideshow for more elegant designs we discovered at the 2017 show.

David Haddad is principal of Vidacom, a home-technology integration firm based in the Chicago area.