Movie Night Done Right: Designing the Home Theatre
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Movie Night Done Right: Designing the Home Theatre

Already an over-the-top convenience, home cinemas should have the plushest seating, a stocked mini-bar and dark, moody colours.

By Jennifer Tzeses
Thu, Feb 3, 2022 12:35pmGrey Clock 4 min

There’s a lot to love about a media room. The epicentre of cozy, it’s a place where the whole family and their friends can curl up in the comfort of home.

“These spaces should be as inviting and stylish as your living room,” said Christine Gachot of Gachot Studios in New York. “A common impulse is to style home theatres after traditional cinema experiences, but these days even forward-thinking commercial theatres are working to make the vibe more residential,” she said.

For ideas on giving your media room a starring role in your home, follow these tips from the design pros.

Bring All the Bells and Whistles

“A home theatre is excessive by definition, so go all-in: a blanket for every seat, tons of pillows, drink tables, accessories throughout that provide an inviting sense of layering. Treat the room with the same care and investment of design that you do every other part of your home.

“In the spirit of great hospitality, every home theatre worth its salt has an amply-stocked minibar including beverage options and snacks.

“For a media room we designed for One Boerum Place in Brooklyn, we created a lounge area with the home theatre room separated by a partition. Oversized seats create a lounging experience that you can melt into for hours. Another luxe option is a succession of sofas arranged in rows like movie seats—that kind of installation provokes a sense of wonder because it’s something you could never see in a public movie theatre. A great trick is to employ upholstered panelling on the walls. It absorbs a ton of sound and feels extremely luxe when you choose the right fabric.

— Christine Gachot of Gachot Studios in New York

Make It Functional

“If you are doing a sectional, go for a deeper seat than usual, extra down and fluffy cushions, and lots of soft throw pillows. Leather motorized chairs are great or lounge chairs that recline or swivel as well.

“High-performance fabrics allow you to put your feet up and enjoy snacks and drinks without any worry. I love including an ottoman that can be pushed against the sofa for extra leg room, and drink tables are great as well.

“Having a great sound system can make a big difference in the overall experience. At the very least, having a Sonos bar can enhance the centre speaker for the voices, but when you are able to do the whole speaker system it’s so much fun.

“The No. 1 rule for the lighting is to be dimmable, it is very important. I love being able to have split circuits to enjoy just having a few lights on while watching a movie. Using a control system is great, and you can program your perfect lighting scenes to enjoy them as you watch a movie.”

Oversized floor pillows add a whimsical touch to a media room designed by Gonzalo Bueno.
Stephen Karlisch — Gonzalo Bueno, architect, interior designer and co-founder of Ten Plus Three in Dallas.

Set the Mood  

“Creating a moody aesthetic by adding darker tones on the walls, ceiling and furniture is key. Also incorporating texture through those pieces adds layers of definition and is great for acoustics.

“Whether you need to store an AV cooler or other electrical equipment, designing a custom-built cabinet for your space is a great solution. Alternatively, there are some great prefabricated media cabinets that can do the trick and look great.

“Comfortable, deeper furniture allows for snuggling up with friends and family. Think oversized sofas, chaise lounges, chairs and ottomans. I like to vary the furniture row by row for increased circulation and added visual space and work with the largest pieces in the back and the smallest in the front.

“We love working with acoustic panels when designing a theatre. There are so many options depending on the design of the room, some of my favourites are suede wall coverings, wood wall panels and textured felt.

“Consider a layered approach when it comes to lighting. Adding in different light sources across different levels to create ambience and interest in a room.”

Punchy hues and soft seating make this media room designed by Marina Hanisch a space to settle into. Marina Hanisch Interiors — Marina Hanisch of Marina Hanisch Interiors in New York 


Make It Cozy 

“Instead of using your average movie theatre seating, we prefer to go with something really stylish. Cineak makes really cool movie theatre seating. Or we’ll custom make wide chaises and sofas where people can put their feet up and just relax. We always go with stadium-style seating, whether it be high back or not. We also suggest getting something that reclines.

“Often, we’ll use carpet that has some kind of a mylar thread in it so it’s sparkly. We also prefer to use dark colours because it’s better for viewing movies. When it comes to acoustical padding, which is helpful for absorbing sound, we like to design/use cool shapes rather than using typical moulding. We’ll create different square shapes that kind of fit together like a puzzle

“Side tables for you to keep your popcorn, drinks, etcetera, as well as a candy or snack bar either right outside of or inside the theatre are other musts.

“Although statement lighting and chandeliers are beautiful, we don’t recommend them for a movie room, as you don’t want anything to distract your eyes from the movie. Be sure to have lighting that can be completely dimmed.

Cozy daybeds function as theatre seating in this home theatre designed by Michelle Gerson. Patrick Cline

— Michelle Gerson of Michelle Gerson Interiors in New York

Reprinted by permission of Mansion Global. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: February 2, 2022.


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China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


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