CID talks to industry experts about current trends in interior automation as well as where the market is headed
This month Commercial Interior Design spoke to three major players within the industry of interior automation including Archimedia, Element One and Bang & Olufsen. While they all unanimously agree on the importance of great quality technology, they have focused on different aspects of the sector.
While Bang & Olufsen is observing the rise in television trends, Element One is pushing forward its monitor system Modis, and Archimedia, while it provides systems rather than products, has high-quality loudspeakers and Wi-Fi systems currently spearheading the market.
“The tools of communication are becoming more and more integrated and require compatibility across various platforms,” says Thorsten Nees, CEO at Element One.
“Element One helps bring all of these facets together in a beautifully crafted high definition screen, which can also provide touch, audio and camera to allow the end-user the flexibility to control rooms, initiate video conferencing calls and to share documentation amongst users.”
Nees further noted that collaborative spaces are becoming more and more flexible with their functions on a daily basis. He said: “Unobtrusive technology and visual aesthetic is paramount when considering room interiors. In this arena, we excel by producing top level technology while retaining minimal disruption to the integral space and confines.”
Peter Aylett, technical director for Archimedia, further adds that today’s end-users are increasingly ‘Digital Natives’, referring to those who were born into the digital age and who have grown up with digital technologies baring heavy impact on their lives, rather than ‘Digital Immigrants’, meaning those who have had to embrace digital technologies but did not grow up with them.
He notes: “This is leading to a shift in specification from technology in buildings being optional, to technology being an integral part of the built environment. The single technology that underpins everything is the lowest-tech of them all—the cable infrastructure.
“With Digital Natives needing the flexibility to embrace bleeding edge technologies as they emerge, it has never been more important to design containment and cabling infrastructure that allows future trends and technologies to be embraced.”
Bang & Olufsen has looked into providing ‘intuitive simplicity’, which is likely catered to Aylett’s Digital Natives as intuition is for those who have an innate understanding of technology.
Shakeel Hussain, Bang & Olufsen head of marketing, expansion markets, says: “Consumers demand more and more from their televisions. Time is scarce and of essence, and they want an entertainment system that works and to focus on the entertainment itself and not having to focus on the technology behind it.
Intuitive simplicity is a key [term] for the consumer, and a virtue Bang & Olufsen offers with [regards to] the new BeoVision Avant.”
All three companies rate different products as their best selling, from Element One’s Modis to Bang & Olufsen’s Avant television and Archimedia’s loud-speakers.
Modis by Element One is a monitoring system that is seamlessly integrated into interior furniture. Manufactured in 17.3 inches and 21.5 inches with full HD panels, Modis can be laminated with veneer to match the table surface or coated with leather, glass or corian.
“Their popularity stems from their beauty, easy use and practicality. Raise the monitors to make the presentation and then make them disappear silently with a single touch, refocusing the meeting to the human side. The key to a beautiful installation is in the planning. We typically build to an 8 week production cycle and project timelines are always shrinking” explains Nees.
Hussain also notes that Bang & Olufsen’s Avant, which was launched back in 1995, continues to be a game changer with the new BeoVision Avant.
According to Nees, it “will set the standard for what should be expected from a television in the future. But also, our loudspeakers have been extremely popular all over the world and have become icons for many other manufacturers of loudspeakers.
“This popularity has certainly increased with the launch of our new wireless speaker range from the BeoLab 18 with the wooden lamella fronts and Acoustic Lens Technology integrated, BeoLab 17 the extremely flexible compact speaker to our recently launched BeoLab 20, a true high-end sound performer with an exceptional compact design that fits in anywhere.”
According to Aylett, most buildings have speakers installed in them. However, technology is normally the first place to cut back on when it comes to budgetary decisions, making an otherwise fantastic space lacking due to poor quality sound.
Additionally, it’s expected of a space to have good quality Wi-Fi networks installed as it bodes well for the modern way of life.
Aylett says: “We sell lots of enterprise grade Wi-Fi systems because these days, people’s mobile devices such as phones and tablets are the centre of their digital worlds.
Because these devices are now being used beyond leisure for applications such as integrated control of the building and unified communications, it is critical that the wireless network provides complete reliability and maximum bandwidth when being used by multiple users.”
Today, people are looking for convenience and great quality technology. They are also looking for seamless, top-of-the-art integration. Aylett notes that in this part of the equation lays one of the biggest problems for interior automation designers.
Often, according to Aylett, interior automation designers are brought into a project too late to ensure that these systems can be integrated elegantly into the surrounding design and building’s technology systems.
However, if these designers and technicians are involved from the start, Aylett says they can help minimise the ‘wall acne’ and guarantee simple use of the building’s entire system.
Ultimately, the key to business for interior automation is getting the product to the end-user and ensuring it meets the needs of modern day consumers.
Nees says: “The real key to our business is getting the product to the end-user; it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed. To that end, we have demonstration stock on the ground in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and are currently selecting Tier 1 Partners in the region.
“The best part is seeing clients bewilderment at the simple beauty of the technology, working silently and effectively.”