If you’ve ever taken a cross-country flight in coach, then you know the almost inhuman, Geneva-Convention-straining state of a truly uncomfortable seat. The anemic cushion causes lower back pain, the narrow width confines the hips and thighs, the rigid, mercilessly limited recline locks the spine into a preternaturally upright position, and leg movement is restricted to the subtlest of ankle rotation barely capable of staving off deep vein thrombosis. Sure, these Torquemada-esque contraptions might not have been designed with torture explicitly in mind, and might even slightly increase your odds of survival in the event of an emergency—and, don’t forget that your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device in the event of a water landing—but comfort and ergonomics certainly take a back seat to, “How many of these things can we legally cram into this cabin?”
When you think about it, our clients can easily spend as much time as a cross-country flight watching an evening of movies or binge watching on their favorite TV series. Usually we are so focused on the design, installation, and integration of the audio, video, and control systems that we forget the part of the system that the client’s body actually interacts with: the seating.
A nice theater seat can be the finishing touch on a theater design, completing the room not only visually, but also the use and enjoyment of the system. A well-made chair cradles the body in comfort, swaddling you in a loving embrace of supple leather or fabric, perhaps even giving a massage, a bit of heat and a place to set your Spieglau IPA glass. Conversely, a bad seat can mar the experience, even if only on a subconscious level. Something as simple as how the footrest hits you wrong in the ankle or calf or how the back is too high and cuts down on surround channel information, or a rogue spring that feels like it is eager to perform an impromptu proctologic screening, can ruin your experience.
While many customers may opt to use a sofa or something less formal than dedicated seating, having an upscale option to what can be found at the La-Z-Boy will not only set you apart but also provide another sales opportunity. You wouldn’t show flat panels and speakers that you don’t sell, so why have seating taking up valuable floor real estate that you don’t offer for sale? People are naturally going to plop down into a chair when you’re giving a demo, so having them sit in something that you can also sell them is a natural fit. Plus, theater seating can be a wonderful add-on sale that often comes in bunches of six, eight, or more and can add a significant amount of revenue to your theater sale. Additionally, as a “displaying dealer” you often get more generous terms on the seating, making your “demo” chairs practically free in some cases when you place a large order.
When my Mega Job customer was looking for seating for their theater, they wanted something that fit the luxury feel and design of the room, but that included certain specifics. For instance, the homeowner wanted a fabric that matched the theater’s drapes and also evoked classic Hollywood movie house feel. They also wanted power recline, massage, and heating in each chair as well as a fringe that picked up the room’s gold highlights.
Fortress Seating's Guild seats
We turned to Fortress Seating and I have to say the experience with working with them was absolutely top notch. Fortress offers a large selection of seating styles plus an incredible array of customization options that can include D-BOX integration, aisle lighting, embroidered logos, piping, customizable seat width and back height, ability to use customer supplied fabric, touchscreen integration, and much more. They can even adjust overall chair heights to provide clear sightlines in rooms where tiered seating isn’t possible.
No room for risers is no problem with this Fortress line.
When my client’s first fabric choice proved difficult to get from the supplier in time for a party, Fortress overnighted two alternate samples to review as well as a selection of nail head choices for the armrest detail so the customer could see and feel the fabric and compare directly to the drape fabric. The Fortress team also provided all of the dimensions needed for the carpenter to build the radius platform the chairs sit on as well as providing precise locations for the electrician to cut in power outlets in the floor beneath each chair. They also sped up production to accommodate the homeowner’s party.
Just as the electronics and systems we offer are a cut above those found at mass-market retail, the fit, finish and feel of a luxury chair certainly stands apart from furniture store solutions. The Fortress chairs are a custom solution that look and feel like they belong in a six-figure room and were exactly what my client wanted.
Short of a bed, there is likely no other piece of furniture in the home that will get as much marathon use as the seating in a home theater. Getting the right seating not only makes for a more comfortable viewing experience, it complements and completes the design of the room.
John Sciacca is principal of Custom Theater and Audio in Myrtle Beach, SC.