We increasingly hear more about the need for a balance between tech and design, particularly in luxury installs. SAV Digital Environments out of Bozeman, Mont., has been well ahead of that curve, with a showroom that exemplifies the concept of tech enhancing design, including a portion of it that doubles as an art gallery.
“The expansion into more of a gallery space was driven by many factors, but one of them was with the development of Lutron Ketra, and our showroom took advantage of that opportunity,” says Stephanie Gilboy, technology advisor at SAV Digital Environments. “We have been blessed to have the opportunity to work closely with the design community — architects, builders, interior designers, and clients — and to be a front-runner that keeps up with technology, but also understands how it plays with these luxury spaces that have intentionally elevated design.”
Taking the Tour
The showroom lies in Bozeman’s Arts District, perfectly nestled between a popular coffee spot and a bakery. And if you are wondering what kind of high-tech wizardry SAV keeps out front to lure in passers-by, the answer would be…none.
“For our front area, we wanted to avoid technology being visible from the exterior,” says Nels Tate, technical sales advisor at SAV Digital Environments. “So, as you walk inside, we have a couple of large pieces of art immediately facing you. Then, as you enter the space, we have a large wooden bark wall that is very modern and very attractive.”
Of course, it does not take too long before to get to the gear. The first right turn brings visitors to a Sonus faber and McIntosh 2-channel system, which, as Tate puts it, “is technology that is meant to be seen.”
Continuing on, the facility weaves invisible tech, such as the diffusion and wall absorption materials in the conference room walls, with stylish design-focused gear such as the Lutron Palladiom metal keypads in the same space.
The presentation of artwork — both analog and digital — is a constant throughout the showroom. “We have digital art showcased back-to-back with traditional art pieces,” says Tate. “In the gallery area we have canvas paintings on one side and on the other side we showcase Leon’s Ente SoundTile, which features a photo that’s been transformed into a dual speaker configuration hanging on the wall.”
“For the Ente piece,” adds Gilboy, “we partnered up with one of our local, very successful photographers and created a custom one-of-a-kind art piece that also happens to be a speaker.”
There is also a second 2-channel system, this one being digital. “We have a projection system that is showcasing digital motion art using a short-throw projector with a digital Meridian 2-channel system,” says Tate. “It is designed to show the juxtaposition between the analog system you experienced as you entered the space.
“We have integrated audio in a lot of the rooms. We’re using Sonance invisible speakers in our main showroom space, and then we also have small-aperture speakers integrated into the area outside of our conference room, which gives us the ability to showcase different styles and aesthetics of technology.
“On the lighting and lighting control side of things we have integrated pockets as well as valances, and we’re also showcasing Lutron Palladiom shades to show the different techniques and approaches we can take for window treatments and automating that in an effective manner.”
Connecting the Community
The SAV showroom’s gallery-like setting was driven by Gilboy, who arrived at the integrator about three years ago with a background in construction and design, and SAV’s owner and president Cory Reistad, a Bozeman native who’s committed to the community. “What we wanted to do was connect the community and the designers with area artists,” says Gilboy. “As it turned out, we are connecting people and the community with opportunity and art, as well as how it can all work together.”
That connection to the community helps SAV keep up with changes in interior design and building trends. “We really do stay in touch and keep our finger on the pulse of what’s coming,” adds Gilboy. “We are not pigeonholed to just technology here. We have a nice outreach with lots of different design areas and the community.”
As part of that outreach, SAV opens its facilities for events and offers its conference room to partners, hosting meetings with builders, electricians, and designers. Beyond that — and perhaps because of the deep relationships it has with the design/build community — SAV doesn’t do much marketing. However, those that venture in from the street get a full tour of all the company can do.
“We have a frame out front that tells what is showing in our gallery, and that drives the traffic from the street,” says Gilboy. “And so, there is always a little bit of, ‘What do you guys do?’ when they first walk in. They don’t understand right away that we’re a home technology firm, and that’s okay, because Scott Abel, our marketing director, gives anyone who walks in a quick pitch to explain what we are. Some days we might have 20 people come by and maybe sometimes we’ll have six — you never know. It keeps things exciting. We have found that the more people that come in here drives more people that want to come and see what we do.”
Even with the industry outreach and the deep ties to the design/build community, Gilboy says there is more to be done to raise awareness of what SAV can do. “It’s shocking to us that many people we work with over and over again still don’t know what we do,” she says. “We might host an educational session to demonstrate Ketra and to talk about the technology, and then we’ll have another meeting at our operations center and the same partner will be like, ‘Wow — this is what you guys can do?’ Sometimes it takes both sides of that coin — the showroom and the operations center — to build an accurate picture.”
For more information, visit www.savinc.net.