The Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour has more than 500 top interior design brands from classic to cutting edge – fashion, fabrics and furniture beneath glass domes where global trendsetters meet and creative aesthetes greet.
There are shops and showrooms to sate most palettes, but when Crestron wants to be heard among the design din, it just pumps up the volume and lets you tap into the very latest in home technology. If Willy Wonka ever moved into digital media solutions, his factory would be the Crestron showroom at Chelsea Harbour.
Crestron is the world’s leading provider of home automation and multimedia distribution systems, founded by engineer George Feldstein, who started the company 46 years ago above a New Jersey deli and now heads one of America’s biggest private companies.
Crestron is constantly evolving; it has to. Technology moves fast, but it is not just about the latest gadget or gizmo, but thinking intuitively and moulding design excellence into smart media. Before a tour of the Crestron showroom, there was the small matter of viewing the sumptuous £50m penthouse for sale at the Corinthia, with these grand residences part of the Corinthia Hotel just by London’s Embankment.
The penthouse was an example of MRFS Group and Crestron technology connecting, offering an integrated suite of security, fire and home automation systems to satisfy the most discerning clientele. MRFS installed the burglar and fire alarms, door entry and Crestron audio-visual systems in the Corinthia Residences, as well as the CCTV in the communal areas and music and mood lighting in the spa, but also within the development MRFS included future-proofed cabling to incorporate upgrades, depending on the purchasers’ requirements.
MRFS has a strong partnership with Crestron, crucially ensuring technical integration. “We started in security and fire protection and expanded into audiovisual and home automation several years ago,” says Tony Bygraves, chief executive of MRFS. “The integration of several systems by a single supplier reduces project management costs and worries about divorced liability. You need, especially in high-end residential, your security, AV, heating and lighting to be talking to each other and working similarly to a Building Management System. It is important to have the reliability and support of the global brand recognition of Crestron associated with what we offer,” says Bygraves, who founded the Surrey-based MRFS Group in 1983.
“While all these systems can stand alone, having the ability to bring them together is a great benefit to the end-user, providing them security, safety, energy savings and convenience all on a common platform.” Back at Chelsea Harbour and Crestron’s Ross Wilkins was selecting a Leonardo DiCaprio movie and, between share price feeds, checking the temperature of the Burgundy in his wine store, before summoning the butler to bring the car round – all via a keypad. Nice work if you can get it.
Wilkins was simply showcasing some of Crestron’s wares, via wall-mounted touchpads, or iPods and iPads on docking stations. Illustrating the power of the speakers and surround sound in the showroom, you could see why some of the Chelsea Harbour neighbours might complain. Mind you, get them through the door, put an iPad in their hand and they wouldn’t leave in a hurry. “Everything you see here is Crestron. Securityremains paramount and floorplans on screen can pinpoint where a fire has started, or where a window is open. Security has to sit with and work with digital media and in-house entertainment. We offer an endto- end, whole-house solution, integrated by design – function and beauty combined,” says Wilkins. “While Crestron don’t make security products, everything is possible on a Crestron system, including integration of fire alarm and intruder alarm activity on touch panels.”
Lighting solutions are another Crestron offering, again via stylish keypads or touchscreens, with mood lighting options to suit the occasion, but always with energy saving in mind. “Today’s homes include more installed technology than ever before, sometimes making simple tasks complex. Crestron streamlines and simplifies all the technology and you can control it all from a mobile device anywhere in the world,” says Wilkins.
Mood lighting and remote control blinds are all well and good but, let’s face it, digital media is where it’s at and what captures the imagination and the big kid in all of us. 4k Video is the next generation of digital media distribution and digital media is currently a major part of Crestron’s global business. Of course, you can have all the keypads, touchscreens and mobile devices in the world in a range of finishes, but they are only as powerful as the technology and control systems behind them.
Crestron is Apple friendly, having created a range of apps for iPads, iPods and iPhones and also supports Google Android devices. There is also a Crestron iServer audio server, with an iPod as its internal hard drive, connecting with the home computer network and synchronising with the iTunes library. It is easy to be overwhelmed by home technology and its possibilities – so concerned with keeping up with the latest innovation, fad or fashion that you forget to live your life in the moment. I would have put myself in the technophobe category before entering the Crestron showroom, but the ‘Sommelier’ icon on a touchscreen, listing the wine in stock, won me over. The keypad is the 21stcentury version of the 19th-century bell pull in stately homes, summoning servants with a call system running through ceiling and wall cavities.
If Crestron did Downton Abbey, Mr Carson and company would be redundant. But then we wouldn’t be able to kick back Lord Grantham style and watch the period drama on a home cinema screen with surround sound and a glass of wine served at the right temperature. Precision engineering just got more precise. The only icon missing on the touchscreen was one for a ‘Handmaiden to peel me grapes’, which is presumably an app still in development. To security, comfort and convenience add