Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Whatever happened to TV as furniture?

Spend any time looking at old TV ads from the 50s, and it's clear a lot more thought used to be put into how a TV "fit" into a home's decor than nowadays. Sets routinely were advertised with various styles of cabinets--colonial, modern, etc.--all the better to fit the home. This ad goes a step further, suggesting the TV could be folded away into a normal piece of furniture. Of course, this is just a cousin to the old console TVs included a turntable, speakers, vacuum tubes, etc. and had to be a good looking piece of furniture as they were bound to dominant any room.

With only a few minor bleeps in the last 50 years, TV design has pretty much been all about the "ers"--bigger, flatter, thinner, higher def-er. Why hasn't anyone done what Apple did for the PC, first in the 80s and then at the end of the 90s with the iMac, giving us a TV as design fetish object? How come the only sweet looking TV in the last 40 years has been the JVC videosphere, which might look cool on my office shelf (if I could find one on eBay), but I'm pretty sure won't hook up to my DirecTV box?

Instead, I am presented with the tantalizing option of hanging my TV on the wall, as if this has always been the fantasy of how TV should fit in a room, rendering it part of the architecture as much as decor. Of course, that's nonsense. TVs are, by definition, meant to be seen. I'm sure we all know someone who keeps a TV in a cabinet, behind a screen, or in an armoire. But aren't the doors always open?

With so many corporate TV death rays set on mobile TV, there is also the other trend of TVs getting smaller. Maybe this will lead to putting them in interesting cases, which will mysteriously remain immobile. Since I'm no industrial designer, here are my specific instructions: I want a new HD Videosphere and I want it to have built in Wifi so I can connect to Hulu and Netflix. I'll stick it next to my bed, on a side table. That seems straight forward enough. Can I really be the only one?

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