Steinway & Sons has been a historic part of New York City, specifically in Astoria, Queens for over 150 years where their piano factory was founded and remains. After selling the famous Steinway Hall building on West 57th Street, Steinway opened a showroom on 44th Street and 6th Avenue. This serves as both their premiere retail space and houses a recital hall and recording facility with a state-of-the-art AV installation. It was here that Gilmore’s Sound Advice was introduced by Steinway Lyngdorf to service their system. Over time and after several discussions, the client decided they wanted to create a tie-in to the showroom with a unique experience at the factory for select prospective clients and academic benefactors. In addition to a factory tour, clients would be able to enter “the Vault” to view, audition and hopefully purchase one of the seven uniquely custom, limited edition Spirio pianos on display. The pricing of these crown jewel pianos range between $250,000 and $2.5 million.
The room was envisioned as a minimalist “white box”. The desire was to eliminate any design element that would compete with the pianos for attention. This would be a design and build project without the guidance of an architect or interior designer. The clients’ in-house construction team would build the space. As each piano is custom in design and material, Steinway desired a way to show and accentuate the wood grain or lacquer finishes. It was essential the interior of each piano be highlighted, especially the underside of the piano lid which often contrasts with the body of the piano. Additionally, the room required unobtrusive acoustical treatment. The client initially considered the usage of draperies to conceal each piano then opening to reveal as requested. The thought being that each piano would be displayed on a circular platform. Cost, construction timelines and practicality (how to move rotating pianos on and off platforms without hydraulic lifts) soon exerted itself into the process. Late into the project a request was made for a grand entry into the Vault in order to enhance the sense of exclusivity.
With the elimination of the drapery, we decided to design lighting to create a visual curtain around each piano. The lighting needed to be adaptable as pianos continually rotate. The best and only solution to recommend was Ketra lighting products. Gilmore’s Sound Advice provided G2 linear lighting to illuminate coves, pillars, wall edges, ceiling and wall washes in all areas including the Lounge and Vault entry. Long Snoot Canopies with individual Color Smart Bulbs were used to highlight inside the piano lids and for pendant lighting and D3 recessed fixtures for piano and Lounge down lighting. Color control was provided by Ketra N3 and N4 modules and processors in combination with Lutron’s QS panel, Din Rail, Contact Closure & Module Interfaces. Gilmore’s Sound Advice provisioned (08) lighting presets programmed for Palladiom keypads. This along with the Ketra app allows the client to change and or add presets when necessary to create the unique entry experience desired. A Bios reader allows four key Steinway employees access to the Vault. Once a fingerprint is read, a voice recording welcomes the employee by name, sound effects of a vault door unlatching are heard, and the entry lighting scene is gradually revealed creating a dramatically striking effect. Steinway & Sons was thrilled with the results and has since added additional areas utilizing Ketra lighting.