Premier Designs CEO Jason Barth wanted to create a truly custom experience center for showcasing his company’s electronics integration services. After forming product partnerships with 30 local artisans, focused on everything from custom-carved cabinetry to landscape architecture, Premier’s electronics offerings, ironically, were the least custom products in the entire space. For most clients, however, the firm’s contributions to the multi-million dollar show home are far from ordinary.
From a 12-inch in-wall Crestron touchpanel inside a $300,000 kitchen, a potential client can control all of the technology within Premier Design’s 3,500-square-foot show home.
“A lot of people use the word ‘custom’ nowadays, but we don’t think most of it is all that custom anymore,” said Barth, co-owner/CEO of the Premier Group in Carmel, Indiana. “But everything in here, with very few exceptions, is handcrafted or custom crafted by an artisan; it’s a one of a kind.”
The space also features a half a million dollars of “custom” technology inside, including full Crestron integration and iLux lighting control, as well as distributed music and video, gaming, and home theater entertainment; LED lighting fixtures; climate controls; motorized window shades and drapes; security and camera surveillance systems; phone and intercom systems; and wired and wireless networks. It also showcases Runco projectors, Da-Lite and Stewart projection screens, D-Box Motion Seating, NuVision flatpanel TVs, B&W and Sonance loudspeakers, Rotel and Lexicon AV gear, and a Kaleidescape media server, but all blended in with the best offerings from other local building and interior design trades.
Premier’s Chateau Design Centre is housed within a freestanding retail building in the upscale Indianapolis suburbs. With its old-world European interior design motif, the “architectural marketplace“ showcases highquality residential cabinetry, building products, and home furnishings, with a focus on traditional design ranging from rustic casual to formal elegance.
D-Box supplied two Extreme chairs for the front row, and Acoustic Innovations supplied its Traditional Style seats for the back row of the theater.
The Centre includes a fully functional kitchen that is designed to allow for a variety of customer events, including grand-opening receptions, designer showings, cooking demonstrations, and other jointly sponsored or individual special events. In addition, the facility is used for meetings or receptions for select community groups, as well as for architects, interior designers, and their clients.
Keeping with the design theme, rooms inside the Centre are referred to as the Moulin Rouge Theater, Shamrock Irish Pub, Country French Kitchen, Biltmore Library, Chateau Font Du Broc Wine Cellar, and The Louve Gallery.
Outside, the City of Carmel approved the elimination of eight parking spaces in front of the building to enable construction of a garden to serve one of the Centre’s partners, Jim Brandon, of Landmark Landscaping Inc.
The dominant design influence inside the Centre, however, comes from its other co-owner, Bob Moore, who runs a custom cabinet company called Chateau Designs. His old-world European-style furniture and cabinet style is ornately hand-carved and featured nearly everywhere in the building, from doors, to trimwork, to the cabinets in both kitchens.
Yet the other product partners are hardly relegated to the background. “We asked local companies to come in and show us their best work, everything from the wrought irons, to custom hand-pounded copper sinks, to lighting features, to unbelievable flooring,” Barth explained.
Leaving Less to the Imagination
Barth says he visualized the concept for the Centre about three years ago after his eighth year in business as an electronics integrator. Premier Design, which is part of The Premier Group that includes Premier Custom Audio & Video Inc., Premier Automation, Lighting & Electrical Services, and Premier Custom Security Inc., already had a showroom in a prime location not far from the Centre. But, Barth says, it was becoming outdated. “You get in those old retail spaces, and it’s like a bowling alley—17 feet wide by 100 feet deep—and it was tough to create a flow,” he explained.
Barth, who is primary owner of Premier with managing partners Matt DeVore (VP of operations) and Tay Bourquein (service manager), approached Moore with his business model, noting the lack of technology experience centers in the area. But he says his primary motivation in creating the space was to simplify the sales process for his clients. “We wanted our clients to not have to take the leap of standing in a strictly technology showroom and seeing a wall of speakers and TVs and wondering how they were going to fit them into their house,” he said.
Now, from a 12-inch in-wall Crestron touchpanel inside a $300,000 kitchen, a potential client can control all of the technology within a 3,500-square-foot show home that is decorated in a style they might choose for their own home.
“It’s much more simple,” Barth said. “It’s realistic, and they don’t have to make that leap anymore. They’re kind of experiencing it in their own environment.”
With its old-world European interior design motif, The Chateau Design Centre showcases high-end systems integration gear, including NuVision flatpanels and Crestron control gear, artfully blended with high-quality residential cabinetry, building products, and home furnishings.
Inside the Moulin Rouge Theater
Although the technology inside The Chateau Design Centre is mostly blended into high-end custom décor, Premier finally lets the eletronics gear take center stage behind the custom door of the Moulin Rouge Theater.
“The goal was to provide a prospective customer with the ultimate home theater experience with all the bells and whistles, properly executed in the right environment, but also one that is reasonably scalable to meet a variety of price points from $15k to over $150k,” Barth explained.
The main equipment rack is a Middle Atlantic 40-space access rack housed in the front left cabinet. The audio system consists of a Lexicon MC12-DHD surround processor and HDMI switch, Lexicon amplification, B&W CT- 8.4s for left, center, right, and the dual 15-inch subs with outboard amplification. The rears are the 800 Series surrounds that are built into the four columns
There are two video systems within the theater. “System A” features a Stewart Filmscreen CineCurve with native 2.40:1 image area and a Runco VX-3000D Ranier with Autoscope hung from the ceiling on a Chief bracket and extension pole. System B features a Runco Q750i LED projector (hung at the back of the theater, just below the 3000i) and a Da-Lite Joe Kane Affinity 103-inch custom-tensioned, motorized screen. This screen comes down in front of motorized drapes that conceal the recessed Stewart Filmscreen and stops right at the top of the cabinet
“The reason for this combination is that we can effectively show a fixed 16:9 image with a 16:9 DLP projector, where the combo retails for less than $12K with a spectacular image,” Barth explained. “But when you add the masking and Stewart CineCurve features with the anamorphic lens and Runco’s AutoScope, we peak at a $40k combo.”
Jason Barth [standing , right] is primary owner of the Premier Group with managing partners Matt DeVore (VP of operations) and Tay Bourquein (seated, service manager).
Both systems are controlled by a Crestron TPMC- 6x touchscreen with RF gateway talking back to the main “house” AV distribution rack to a CP2E processor. Sources include a DirecTV HD-DVR, Vudu, a Crestron ADMS, a Kaleidescape 1U Server with 1080p Player, an Apple TV, and an LG Blu-ray player with Netflix. In addition, a D-Box Motion Processor for the Extreme chairs and Motion Platform feeds from the Lexicon, and Furman provides surge protection (an AC-215 for the projectors; an Elite-DM for the main equipment rack along with the new Furman F1500 Bluebolt battery backup with IP control). D-Box supplied two Extreme chairs for the front row, and Acoustic Innovations provided its Traditional Style seats for the back row, which is on a D-box Motion Platform. Auralex provide room treatments and a fiber-optic starry sky, and Liton three-in MR-16 can lights are controlled by Crestron iLux control.
PLUNGING AHEAD, DESPITE THE ECONOMY
Opening an enterprise as ambitious as The Chateau Design Centre in the midst of the great recession might have seemed like an unwise idea a year ago, but Barth says he’s glad he didn’t wait for the dust to settle before moving forward. “To pull this off in the last 12 months puts us leaps and bounds ahead of where we might be had we struggled through this economy, maybe taken a few years to recover, and then done it,” he noted. “Heck, this could have been five years down the road, so I’m incredibly proud that we have this now at this time.”
Premier also maintains 8,000 square feet of office and warehouse space nearby, and Barth hopes to grow that to about 12,500 square feet at some point.
But for now the focus is on the The Chateau Design Centre and building a strong future with a loyal customer base.
“We’ve got fantastic clients right now,” Barth said. “We’ve got, I think, a bright future, and this is going to enhance that incredibly. We built this facility for what we call our specialty consumers, our high-end residential consumers that desire an integrated system. Whether they know what that is or not yet, now they can experience it and make those decisions.”