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The Scalable Path to Luxury Cinema

Even in the world of high-end theater design, there is room for good, better, best options.

We are all aware that our luxury clients have varying levels of interest in achieving their personalized cinematic entertainment space. When you meet with your client, you can learn so much about their tastes and preferences by paying attention to their habits: What cars do they drive? Do they enjoy great wines and fine dining? Do they travel to interesting destinations? Do they enjoy boating? Do they fly private? Are they brand-driven in their choices? Taking the time to study and understand this about your prospective client, will assist you in defining the direction and level of luxury that you present to them.

Luxury Home Theater Design
Photo courtesy of Slayman Design.

Most clients, as they have become savvier about what we provide over the years, either have a pre-conceived concept of what this process involves or are open to the guidance that you and your team can provide based on your experience. They are looking to you, the AV integrator, to guide them toward the best solution and outcome. Because you have made a continued effort to stay aware of the evolution of technology, you still have the advantage of providing a world-class solution within almost all budgets.

It is my goal as an interior design professional to assist you in providing your high-end luxury customers with the ultimate in design and finishes, no matter what level they may choose. Having extensive experience in providing luxury custom interiors for dedicated residential theatrical projects, I have become acutely aware that clients have different expectations and ideas of what they believe their finished space should ultimately be. I would like to share some of these experiences and hopefully assist you in providing a roadmap for success in satisfying and exceeding your customer’s expectations.

Related: Lifestyle Tech and Design for the Luxury Client

Let’s simplify this process by utilizing the educational terminology of 101, 201, and 301 as loose design and budgetary guidelines to identify the level and direction that will be taken in the acoustics and interior finishes to accomplish the client’s goals.

As mentioned, in my earlier articles, there are five different critical elements that should always be addressed in every project of this nature. To provide a superior outcome, each of these elements should be considered.

  • Room acoustic performance, design, and infrastructure
  • Interior aesthetic finish elements, including lighting
  • Video reproduction
  • Audio reproduction
  • Comfortable seating

If these elements are properly implemented as a part of the process, no matter what level of room budget is finally determined and approved, you will be providing and exceeding your client’s expectations.

Each client has their own unique set of expectations for their entertainment space. Some focus more on the interior finishes and some focus more on the video and audio performance. It is our responsibility to assist them in translating this process, delivering it within their budget expectations, and providing them their dream outcome.

Room Design 101

Room Design 101 (RD101) is a basic design level that is generally simple to implement. This level is normally used for clients that want a more minimalist design without intricate details or finishes.

Here are a few elements of a basic 101-level luxury entertainment media/theater space.

  • High-quality video reproduction — either flat panel or two-piece projection
  • Basic immersive audio using 5.1-, 7.1-, or 7.1.2-channel configuration and a high-end audio/video receiver with high-performance, mid-priced speaker packages
  • Basic acoustic design encompassing non-parallel surfaces, acoustic treatments, bass traps, and other products
  • Basic acoustical panels with high-end acoustically transparent fabrics and finishes
  • Basic carpet
  • Basic LED lighting integrated into ceilings, walls, and reveals
  • Basic theater or modular sofa seating.

From the interior finishes perspective, this could be a more industrial or commercial approach to the final room aesthetic.

The interesting challenge of RD101 is that, although generally budget-driven, there is still latitude to provide different panel angles, reveals, and treatments with carefully integrated lighting.

More From Lisa Slayman: Delivering the Ultimate Professional Private Screening Room

Room Design 201

Room Design 201 (RD201) is the next step and possibly the most chosen path for most entertainment rooms. Here are a few elements of the mid-level luxury system to take into consideration.

  • High-quality video reproduction — either higher-resolution flat panel or two-piece projection
  • Upgraded immersive audio using 7.1.4, 9.1.6, 11.1.4, channels — adding ceiling speaker channels and high-performance LFE speakers
  • Dolby Atmos/DTS-X processing
  • Advanced acoustic design encompassing external and internal sound isolation, screen wall treatments, and all elements of RD 101
  • Enhanced wall, ceiling, and screen-wall design elements featuring upgraded fabrics/leathers for wall panels and dimensional design for walls and ceilings
  • Enhanced carpet solutions
  • Enhanced LED lighting solutions using luxury fixtures sconces, reveals, and down-lighting.
  • Upgraded custom seating using high-back or modular sofa systems

The RD201 room takes on a more customized room aesthetic and higher level of performance, employing the customer’s choices in finer materials, artistic elements, and character based on their tastes and the interior designer’s recommendations.

Also by Lisa Slayman:

Room Design 301

Room Design 301 (RD301) provides a fully customized level of interiors. This level can encompass highly customized thematic design and utilization of the highest-end luxury products. This level of room should perform at a professional studio content level.

  • High-quality video reproduction for all playback formats, including DCI professional cinematic content
  • Professional quality immersive audio using Dolby Atmos and DTS-X processing, professional audio speaker systems, and LFE. This space has the potential of sub-harmonic, low-frequency reproduction
  • Full acoustic design services including all elements of RD101/RD201, plus structural physical room isolation and screen baffle walls
  • Fully customized interior room design using thematic elements or customized finishes as specified by the interior design cinema team
  • Ultra-luxury acoustical fabrics, exotic woods, custom surface finishes, and carpet
  • High-end lighting solutions including RD201 elements and adding Circadian lighting environments
  • Ultra-luxury seating using the highest-end designer upholstery and leathers, fully integrated motorized control, and several optional features
  • Inclusion of peripheral areas such as lobbies, snack and beverage stations, bar areas, and dedicated project/technical room

There are a few more interesting and compelling options that should be considered for any of the aforementioned luxury entertainment spaces:

  • Gaming options — Golf simulation, football, baseball, soccer, skiing, snowboarding, race car driving, cycling, and rowing, as well as cricket, rugby, and bocce. You can integrate any or all of these formats into your cinematic multi-purpose entertainment space.
  • Video gaming — This is an immensely popular format if you consider all of the juggernaut gaming software available. Imagine playing on your giant high-performance screen with immersive audio playback!

The preceding information should provide you with some ideas on how to approach your client’s needs in respect to the design and budget process for your project. We have examples of each of these levels that are available by request to assist you with ideas and concepts.