Two years ago, prominent private theater designer Theo Kalomirakis, founder of TK Theaters, and his VP of sales and marketing James Theobald envisioned putting together a collection that would capture the essence of those custom elements that define the “TK signature,” making it easier and more costeffective for installers and contractors to build elegant and inviting home theaters.
The TK Living collection features innovative specialty products such as acoustically transparent designer fabrics, unique architectural lighting fixtures, luxurious carpets, and a variety of one of-a-kind accessories that include poster displays.
The result is TK Living, a distinctive brand carrying the imprimatur of Kalomirakis and CINEAK, the Sausalito, California, home theater seating company founded by Alvin Hellemans.
The collection features innovative specialty products such as acoustically transparent designer fabrics, unique architectural lighting fixtures, luxurious carpets, and a variety of one-of-a-kind accessories that include poster displays, decorative speaker grilles, exit signs, theater-door hardware, and more.
CEDIA EXPO 2010 attendees will get the first full look at the collection in the September, but a sneak preview was revealed last month at the gala showroom opening for the custom installation company SEAL Solutions, in Islandia, New York. SEAL’s showroom/theater features one of TK Living’s theater styles, utilizing many of the items offered in the line. It highlights cost-effective construction, design, and engineering, according to Kalomirakis.
Three Theater Designs Available
TK Living’s proprietary finishes and accessories are sold exclusively through the CEDIA channel to end-users and designers. “This allows custom installers to sell to the endusers the elements that look as good as in the pictures, and if there is a designer involved, he buys the elements with a built-in markup,” Kalomirakis noted. “If a client comes in without a designer, the dealer makes the whole margin. Our concept is to allow designers to share in the profits, so they don’t do the design incorrectly.”
TK Living makes the three theater designs available for custom fitting into the client’s home. “For a charge, we can take the design and stretch it to fit a room perfectly, and we provide the package documents to the builder,” Kalomirakis explained. “Our elements bring back flair. Our carpets and acoustical fabrics—our most proprietary elements—don’t look like burlap. And our grilles are long pieces, six feet high, with pre-designed columns.”
TK Living’s James Theobald (left) boasts a design background that serves him well in his capacity as TK Living’s vice president. TK Living carries the imprimatur of Kalomirakis and CINEAK, the Sausalito, California, home theater seating company founded by Alvin Hellemans (right).
Partnering with CINEAK
TK Living’s Theobald, who has worked with Kalomirakis since 1996, boasts a design background that serves him well in his capacity as TK Living’s vice president (Hellemans is president), and, in fact, personally designed CINEAK’s Bruges chair.
“I thought about launching a collection on my own, but it became apparent that the requirements were too great,” Theobald recalled. “Rather than a joint venture, TK Living is a 100-percent new company with partners from both TK Theaters and CINEAK.” Kalomirakis and Theobald are based in New York and have always been service driven, offering architecture, interior design, and engineering. “We’re not set up to be a product delivery business even though we often spec products into our drawings,” Theobald said. “I had a strong relationship with Alvin and I liked the way CINEAK did business; they had an established network of dealers and reps and that was a big part of the puzzle. I didn’t even consider anyone else.”
Fabrication is the Hard Part
The partnership itself was the easiest part, according to Theobald. The biggest challenges came because TK Living’s products are unique, have specific engineering features, and would be needed in relatively small quantities.
“We had to go and see vendors, often revisiting them, and discovering some in small-town America,” Theobald said. “We needed vendors willing to spend the time with us to help develop the products that often require sending things back and forth dozens of time for testing and engineering.”
In a harsher financial climate, it can be redundant for many companies, including builders and architects, to hire a design firm, but with TK Living, they can rely on their established home theater design history and perhaps win some projects that would otherwise be on hold or be lost, Theobald says. “This suite of products allows us to let others design theaters on their own, knowing that we’ve taken the R&D responsibility out of it for them. For example, our acoustical fabric line has been rigorously tested.”
GETTING THE WORD OUT
Theobald says that TK Living will eventually advertise its collection, but will market through its rep and dealer network first. “I was getting tremendous feedback from dealers back in September when all we had was column grilles and fabrics along with the concept,” he remembered. “We’ve come a long way since then. A lot of dealers were running into technical problems with designers, builder, and architects already hired by clients. TK Living gives dealers unique designer-grade engineered materials without affecting AV performance.”
The collection, Kalomirakis says, does not compete with the high-end clientele needs of TK Theaters. “The tradeoff with TK Living is that you don’t get a grille that nobody else has,” he said. “We don’t bastardize our custom pieces; we just make available the elements that have made our theaters look attractive, without the design fee. This brings to CEDIA wellthought- out and well-designed pieces that the average consumer finds in good stores for the rest of the house.” Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado.