Flex Theater: Coming to an Office Near You
We have observed a trend in the residential AV market toward a “flex theater” — a room that serves multiple purposes and can be transformed into a home theater experience with the use of lighting control, window shades, and specialized AV equipment, like a drop-down screen and a projector tucked away in a soffit.
In a recent Elle Magazine interview with architect Deborah Berke about design challenges, she said “The hardest [room] for me now is the living room.” She went on to say that since homeowners want to engage with various changing media types, the space requirements are changing. “In the past, we did houses with dens and libraries and media rooms,” she said. “Now those spaces are turning into one room. Now, it’s about how much of the room’s wall space is devoted to the TV screen, to books, to art, and to windows.”
The flex-theater idea helps address the design trade-offs faced by homeowners.
This trend toward flexible design in the home is influencing commercial projects as well. Real estate is a significant expense for most businesses, and with unpredictable work force sizes and an unproven (and oft-debated) economic recovery on the horizon, most are hesitant to invest in overcapacity. Corporations are simply expecting more from the space they have.
This creates real opportunity for the AV integrator, where the “flex theater” concept becomes the “flex office.” We have seen the growing use of large-format flat-panel display technology — especially interactive touch displays — replacing business projectors in conference rooms. The same display that can serve up a presentation to a group allows the room to transform into a collaborative workspace for smaller meetings or to function as an access point for other information or services on the network.
And what about the “flex lobby?” AV technology installed for employee or visitor signage can take on architectural significance in the space based on content selection, or it can be used for self-service visitor education about the company’s products and services. Brighter displays, interactive technology, control systems, and directional audio systems are enabling broader application of technology in these applications.
What other commercial environments can “flex” to achieve more with less? Who better to provide these solutions than an AV integration expert with design, installation and support capabilities?