Savant Systems has consistently distinguished itself from other multi-room control innovators. Everything, from its decision to base its core product platform around Apple's operating system to the design of its touchpanels and remote controls, has edgy etched into the fine print. So it should come as no surprise that the company has chosen to open its first experience and design center -- a two-apartment, 7,500-square-foot homage to high-end living -- on cobblestoned Prince Street in the heart of New York City's SoHo District (right around the corner from the Apple Store, which is also convenient).
A Rosie touchpanel in the loft
This week, the company opened up the residential apartment to dealers and press to get hands-on experience with Savant's cache of products, including its wow-inducing TrueImage Control solution that has been integrated into its Rosie line of touchpanels. Stepping off the elevator, visitors immediately enter a spacious, open plan room that has been cleverly divided into a listening room, family room, piano room, dining room, and kitchen. An 800-square-foot home theater is nestled in the back of the apartment, along with a swanky bedroom, a full-featured home office, and a discreetly placed equipment room.
Designed in partnership with former member of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Thom Filicia, the plush apartment adheres to a strict, visually striking aesthetic. Amid the well-placed desktop and wall-mounted touchpanels is a Steinway piano, a small plane propeller, and in the bedroom, an expansive piece of beach art. Savant also worked closely with other manufacturers, including Runco, NuVision, Middle Atlantic, Stewart Filmscreen, Chief Manufacturing, and Lutron, the latter of which is now working with the company to automate all its Experience Centers around the country.
The SoHo loft's bedroom
Savant CEO, Bob Madonna, was gracious enough to give RS a full, talking tour (check out the video at the end of this post) of the space beginning with a demonstration of a Rosie desktop control panel equipped with TrueImage Control technology. Infused with intuitive iTouch/IPhone like gestures, the Rosie touchpanel controls virtually every other controller and its attached media (televisions, iPods, AppleTV, etc.) as well as lighting and drapes in the space. The wow punch of TrueImage is its picture control interface. Photos of each room are integrated with the technology, allowing end users to tap on specific items in the picture (e.g., a lamp) to actuate control. TrueImage has been integrated into just about every touchpanel throughout the apartment, including into the custom-made coffee tables that define the living room.
In the bedroom, his and her Rosies are complementing by two Panasonic rear projectors that use the curved closet door as a projector screen. This design trick is once more used to bring movies and television viewing into the en-suite bathroom, which is also fitted with an on-wall touchpanel for access to media throughout the apartment.
The living room
Particularly impressive was the home office, where a four-panel hub of televisions was under the control of a 24-inch iMac overlaid with TrueImage Control. To elicit “ohhs” and “ahhs” from its dealer base, Savant wisely chose to neatly display the room's nerve center underneath the televisions and called in a famed Japanese artist to create digital artwork on the screens.
A piano and iPod team up
Down the hall, the Theo Kalomirakis-designed home theater completes the posh digs and is kitted out with the same overlaid TrueImage technology along with surveillance integration that allows the homeowner to keep an eye on the entrance and the rest of the apartment while watching a film.
Judging from the large crowd in attendance it is safe to say that Savant's Design Center is already a big hit with its dealer base, many of whom seemed truly impressed by what was on display. While members of the company's marketing team were mums about whether this first apartment will lead to others around the country, it is impossible to imagine that it won't. Regardless, this first effort hits all the right notes by being engaging, visually stunning, and in many ways, deceptively simple.
Llanor Alleyne is a freelance editor and writer in New York City.