Ed Gilmore’s midtown Manhattan showroom offers a both thrilling and soothing escape for the senses.
Certain spaces are more memorable because of what they make you forget. Outside, there might be a jumble of noise and visual clutter. But once you step inside, it’s all soft lighting, curated playlists, and video imagery so subtly stunning, it can be a soothing backdrop or a foreground showstopper, depending on the intention.
That’s how it feels to walk into one of Manhattan’s unforgettable high-end residential-technology hideaways, Gilmore’s Sound Advice. As I stepped into the sensorially refined environment envisioned and built by Ed Gilmore and his team of designers and manufacturer partners, I forgot my crazy commute and instantly remembered why the showroom is the scene of so much great conversation and innovation.
I was there to see a truly exotic specimen in the landscape of residential tech—the finest grade of pixel-perfect Planar LED video wall installed anywhere outside the factory at that exact moment. But there will be more released into the wild soon, especially with the rapid evolution of the trend I was also there to discuss: Video walls and large-scale video surfaces of every kind are moving into homes.
And it quickly made sense why this is happening. Casually strolling into the home theater room with Gilmore, I immediately felt the mood boost that only the shiniest, most amazing technology can provide. Glowing at only 30% of its brightness capacity, and shyly only displaying a 4K content stream when it could of course handle 8K without drama, the video wall was everything that defines luxury. It’s extremely high-performance, but it’s also extremely rare.
“Digital artwork really is a thing now, and not just as a means of hiding the flat-panel display while it’s in ‘off’ mode.”
“It’s a unique type of experience,” Gilmore affirmed, and definitely one that is a generation ahead in terms of technology—and maybe if you want to be crass, also in terms of budget. Sure, it’s out of reach for most. “But for those who can, it’s here now.”
No motion artifacts to be detected, and “it’s completely impervious to ambient light,” Gilmore pointed out. “It’s non-reflective, unlike flat panels.” In short, you could put this anywhere. Which is what NFT collectors, gamers, sports fans, movie buffs, and even audiophiles (yes, if you like live music documentaries or you’re considering hosting livestreamed concerts in your home, potentially with a Steinway Spirio piano accompanying the scene, talk to Gilmore).
But this wasn’t a tech demo, this was a conversation in a beautiful room that happened to have a large direct-view LED wall in it, along with some cozy furniture and the perfect glow of carefully calibrated lighting. Also there was a LaserDisc of Pulp Fiction that caught my eye, and a copy of E.B. White’s Here Is New York on the table next to me, which I promptly picked up and obsessed over.
Clearly this was a room designed for people with taste. So we settled in for a fireside chat warmed by the glow of this new technology—which really did put out a little bit of heat if you got close to it, as Gilmore pointed out. Be sure to think about thermal management, he said, not to mention energy management: “There are three 20-amp circuits feeding this thing,” he noted with a wry grin.
At first, we did talk about all of the excitement around the display of massive and/or complex digital artworks on expansive architectural surfaces. Gilmore is installing a couple of those for a collector—one of the displays will be mounted on the ceiling, in fact. And just outside the room we were in, a couple of the other Planar displays in the space were rotating through artistic imagery in a variety of configurations. Digital artwork really is a thing now, and not just as a means of hiding the flat-panel display while it’s in “off” mode.
But then we got into the good stuff around all of that artwork. The home is now a digital canvas, expressing ideas and reflecting moods through curated blends of sound, video, and lighting—particularly human-centric lighting, which of course we had to talk about as the ultimate “wellness” option for homes. These are the emotional reasons people are looking for something new at home—to be comforted, uplifted, and also dazzled by the immersive possibilities of well-designed technology-enhanced spaces.
Gilmore talked about the delicate balance his designers and engineers have to strike in creating a home that not only looks good but makes you feel good. “We harness technology to its ultimate expression to provide great experiences for clients,” Gilmore noted. “You can’t commoditize that.” That’s because real human experience has always been the core of residential technology design. And specialists are starting to tap into new ways that the senses can be engaged (or soothed) by technology, to thrilling effect.
“I’ve never been more excited about our industry than right now—there’s so much potential,” Gilmore said. Because as he knows well, you have to be both an artist and an engineer to make a home resonate with real feeling.
by Kirsten Nelson
April 7, 2022