TV design: Escaping the armoire

An armoire for holding a traditional glass-front TV was once a staple of many a hotel room, but as flat-screen TVs became ubiquitous, they have gone “the way of the dinosaur,” said Mike Scott, director of manufacturing at John Ralph Commercial Furniture International. But that's a good thing, according to Scott, because they took up valuable space.

“Now, with TVs being as slim and as attractive as they are, there’s no reason to hide them in an armoire,” Scott said. Designers now have a much wider range of options for displaying a TV in a guestroom—from the simplicity of basic wall-mounting or situating them on a bureau to more complex solutions like building a fake wall to hide wires and allow guests to plug in their personal devices.

Scott said that in recent years he has added wooden panels to the backs of guestroom bureaus that can hold a TV to hide its wires for a cleaner look.

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Shannon Kim, director of design & technical services for Marriott International, noted that many hotels are mounting TVs on a bracket so that guests can swivel the device as they like. Some hotels also mount TVs on swinging “arms” for an even wider viewing range—but Scott said that these arms are expensive (as much as $120 each) and can break if not handled with care. “There’s a small risk of liability, although they can be very secure,” he said. As such, he said, he has not had many requests for these types of devices.

Similarly, while cabinets with pop-up TVs or bathroom mirrors with flat-screens embedded inside are sometimes seen in luxury hotel rooms, Scott does not feel that these will become widespread in more mainstream hotels due to overall cost and difficulty of both installation and maintenance. Beyond that, he added, “I’m not so sure hotels want to hide the TV.”

Kim, however, has noted that a new type of TV may once again change how the gadgets are presented in hotel rooms: The super-thin (0.04 inch) and light (4.2 pound) 55-inch OLED TV that was introduced in May. “This could be put onto the wall with a thin magnetic mat behind,” she said, calling the device “a game-changer for the future in hotel room design"

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