Winning Technology

by Autumn McGarr

It’s all but impossible to ignore the growing impact of technology in the home. Between connected appliances, “smart speakers” like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home and products – from shower systems to lighting to cooking appliances – with app-driven features that enhance functionality, technology is re-envisioning how consumers use every aspect of their home.

While kitchen and bath designers may initially be looking only at how these products impact these rooms specifically, the trend is far more wide-ranging than a single room in the house. Home automation is becoming a hot trend, and while the kitchen often acts as command central, the end goal is often a totally connected home.

However, the complex nature of today’s home automation technology can be challenging for designers whose clients want to venture into the world of connectivity, and this is where partnerships come into play. Just as kitchen designers often worked with lighting designers when a plethora of new options created more complexity in the lighting arena, today’s kitchen and bath professionals are finding that technology experts can offer valuable insights and help to forge partnerships – partnerships that may allow designers to create ancillary profit centers that can expand well beyond the kitchen and bath.

Many designers at the forefront of technology are discovering CEDIA as a resource for technology professionals. At the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, the technology association had a strong presence, showcasing a wealth of technology solutions for all areas of the home. CEDIA – which represents 3,700 member companies worldwide and serves more than 30,000 industry professionals who manufacture, design and integrate goods and services for the connected home – was established in 1989, and hosts an annual awards program designed to showcase projects that celebrate technical excellence in design, installation and integration.

Award winners are judged on both technical and aesthetic criteria, with a broad swathe of judges that includes both technical judges and design judges. The most recent CEDIA Awards included four design judges on the panel: Carol Kurth, architect and interior designer, Carol Kurth Architecture + Interiors in Bedford, NY; Barry Goralnick, principal of Barry Goralnick Architecture & Design, in New York City; Susie Rumbold, founder and creative director of Tessuto Interiors, a multidisciplinary design studio based in London, and Dean Keyworth, Armstrong Keyworth Ltd., in London.

This month, Kitchen & Bath Design News spotlights a trio of CEDIA projects that were named finalists in the association’s most recent competition.

The next CEDIA Awards will be held in July in Chicago; more information can be obtained by visiting

In this iconic luxury apartment, technology infiltrates every aspect of the space, from the window shades that close automatically if the room becomes too warm to the lighting and wine storage.

Iconic Luxury

While technology lovers often prioritize tech above all else, this was not the case in this two-floor iconic luxury apartment building located in Vancouver, BC. The project offered dream aesthetics, with stunning views of a nearby beach, and the clients made it clear that they did not want the interior look and quality of finish compromised by the introduction of technology.

Likewise, the clients wanted high quality audio throughout the home, but did not want the visual intrusion of speakers that might distract from the home’s aesthetics.

Aaron MacKenzie-Moore of Mitchell Freedland Design, General Contractor Jamie Weatherbie and technology integrator La Scala worked together to incorporate the desired technology without compromising the fresh look of the space.

Hidden speakers bring audio to 16 zones, James subwoofers are integrated into the millwork and all three bedrooms have televisions on motorized lifts that raise and lower from custom cabinetry, the team notes.

Lighting is an essential part of the design, including 90 loads of Lutron lighting and nearly 80 different shades. The functional aspects are seamlessly integrated into the space; for instance, if a room becomes too warm, the shade are automatically lowered.

Additionally, the home features eight zones of HVAC control, and a number of well-designed scenes can be accessed via a touch of a button. Everything can be easily adjusted by the homeowner, the design team notes, including a “clean” scene that lights up the residence, raises all the TVs and brings pre-selected music into eight zones.

Designed to provide solutions for an Orthodox Jewish client whose religious beliefs preclude turning on electronics during Shabbat and religious holidays, this whole-home automation project integrates smart technology to allow for automated lighting, cooking, climate control and other home functions.

Orthodox Solution

Technology at its best is about solving problems. This was particularly evident in the case of this Florida client who is both an avid technology enthusiast and a follower of Orthodox Judaism. The client’s religious beliefs prohibit turning on any form of electronics during Shabbat (which begins a few minutes before sunset on Friday and ends upon the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday evening), as well as the Jewish holidays, requiring a well-thought-out design solution.

Larry Frankel of Frankel Homes, partnering with Christine Sullivan of Creative Home Design Group, LLC and technology integrator All Digital, LLC, devised a solution using the Control4 system, integrating the cloud-based Hebrew calendar with a Control4 Hebcal driver from Chowmain Designs.

Among other things, the system automatically sends a notification for a candle lighting ceremony at 18 minutes before sundown, as biblically mandated.

Lighting is also pre-controlled during Shabbat to ensure “no touch” operation, while other systems are also pre-programmed to turn off during Shabbat and holiday observations.

The fully automated home also includes panelized lighting, 16 zones of audio, eight zones of video, climate control, security, intercom, motorized window treatments and more.

In this entertainment-focused whole-home integration project designed by Yvonne Lau of Yvonne Lau Architecture and Cynthia Marks of Cynthia Marks Interiors and installed by DSI Luxury Technology, TVs and speakers are located throughout the home, even in the bathroom.

Entertainment Central

The clients wanted entertainment to be a focal point in this California-based whole-home integration, designed by Yvonne Lau of Yvonne Lau Architecture and Cynthia Marks of Cynthia Marks Interiors and installed by DSI Luxury Technology.

While the home is centered around a family room tied to a game room, the clients wanted TVs everywhere, inside and outside the home – including in the bathroom. As such, the equipment list for the project included Samsung Frame TVs, SONY OLEDs, Seura Mirror, Seura Hydra (for the shower) and Seura outdoor TVs.

Music was also high on the priority list, as the clients wanted to be able to enjoy their music from any room, and even in the shower, which required waterproof speakers that would provide good sound quality that wouldn’t be distorted by the sounds of the shower spray.

Sixteen zones of audio were included, fed by Savant music servers that deliver music to Sonance and Clarke Synthesis Underwater speakers.

CCTV and alarms keep the home secure, while all of the home’s HVAC systems are integrated into the Savant control system.

As with most connected homes, lighting considerations were a high priority. In this project, lighting control and the home’s 32 Lutron Sivoia shades control brightness, programmed to react to the heat of the sun.

The home also features a game room, with an 85″ Sony XBR TV for daily viewing plus a giant 135″ projection screen that can be used for movie viewing, then hidden seamlessly back in the floor under a motorized hatch when not in use.

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