Philharmonic: Generative Art Enablers

29 March 2022

Generative Art operates right at the cutting-edge of today’s art world, providing artists with a new canvas to create beautiful, beguiling works using technology. 

Philharmonic has the knowledge to support these artists with the software and hardware that is needed to allow them to reach their audience, wherever they are. 

The technology used to create and support this relatively new form of art needs experience and skill to install, providing the platform for the artist to express themselves. In truth, great artists have always had help creating their masterpieces. Michelangelo needed a specialist to help him build the scaffolding to the reach the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Technical assistance has always been at the heart of some of the world’s most innovative, cutting-edge artworks and this is still true today, with Philharmonic fulling the role of a ‘technical artisan’ assisting the artists in reaching their goal and realising their vision. 

What exactly is Generative Art? Basically, it is a piece of art that relies entirely or partly on use of an ‘autonomous’ system, a non-human aspect, often a specially created algorithm, that helps to generate and change what the artist wants the viewer to experience. As well as algorithms, Generative Art can also make use of chemistry, biology, mechanics, robotics, smart materials, manual randomisation, mathematics and data mapping to generate the work.

Despite being extremely cutting-edge, like most art forms, its origins are older than you might think. Automated computer graphics from as far back as the early 1960s can be argued to form the roots of today’s work. One early pioneer was Georg Nees who showed his work in exhibitions as early as 1965. Other early exponents include Vera Molnár, widely considered to be a pioneer of Generative Art, and one of the first women to use computers in art. The movement continued to develop to the point where the first Generative Art conference took place in Milan in 1998.

Some examples of artists working today in this genre include Manolo Gamboa Naon, an Argentinian artist who harnesses algorithmic tools including processing to create art. Another artist, Anders Hoff through projects such as ‘Inconvergent’, explores the behaviour and evolution that emerges from systems with simple rules.

Today, it is widely accepted that Generative Art’s most defining features include change or dynamic development and motion. As more established forms of art such as painting and sculpture or static installation, cannot deliver these aspects, it is technology that needs to step in and provide the canvas for these innovators to use. Whilst the artist sets the rules, it is the defining feature of Generative Art that the technology makes at least some of the decisions. 

Each project involves at its conception some form of software. That software then needs a place to live, mostly usually specially designed hard-drives or computers. Then the work needs to be viewed, most usually on high-performance screens. These are the basics, but the needs for every work of art vary hugely. The type and size of screens required, the nature of the hard-drives to gain the correct performance from the software and protect intellectual property of the art, are all factors to be considered. The artist will then have a particular vision of exactly how the art will look; the brightness, speed of operation, colour contrasts, the colour pallet in general and any audio involved, all need to be perfect. 

Providing the basic hardware is just the start, generative artists call on the skills of Philharmonic to not just set up their art, but to fine tune it to be just as they intended. This will give the purchaser something they have never seen before that will be a living, breathing, ever changing entity for many years to come.One recent example involves this project where an art collector wanted to show off a recent acquisition from art collective TeamLab provided by Pace Galleries in New York.

Mind Over Matter!

9 March 2022

Big tech attempts to produce a silver bullet for smart home interoperability will always disappoint. The on the ground experience of a true smart home integrator will always triumph, here is why.

Recent significant news in the smart home world was that several global companies have signed up to an initiative called ‘Matter’, a connectivity protocol involving Amazon, Apple, Google and Samsung, that promises to make all smart home devices work together. 

Styled as a new ‘Smart Home Standard’, the initiative promises to make setting up a smart home faster, easier and free from compatibility issues. 

The initiative was born as Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and several others leveraged the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), a standards-setting organisation for the Internet of Things industry, to create a new connectivity standard. The initiative commenced around two years ago and is known as Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) and its supporting companies now number over 200. Now called Matter, the idea is that all products displaying the official logo will be compatible. The whole thing is set to launch in the middle of 2022. Sounds good right? well, actually no, not really.

Smart homes need micro not macro management.

The products covered by the initiative are very much at the entry level of the market and it’s likely to stay that way. Manufacturers who spend serious R&D dollars making high-performance products do not want to position themselves in a market they see as a DIY, low performance arena. So, the lesson here is that if you want high-functioning smart homes and entertainment systems that cater for specific needs, Matter won’t get you there, because high-performance makers are unlikely to be present.  

What Matter represents is an expansion over already established wireless communication standards such as Zigbee and Z-Wave. Now, both these do get used in the smart home sector up to a point, but have always been seen as a compromise solution for retrofit projects when the running of cables and proper smart home infrastructure has not been possible.

At Philharmonic, we are not in the business of compromise when it comes to delivering the performance our customers expect. This new standard will be the same, it may provide the smart home installer some opportunity when options are limited and functionality only needs to be at a low level, but for genuine smart home and luxury entertainment experiences, Philharmonic operates at a different level.

The other point to underline is that any system like this is open to technical issues. It’s already been made plain that neither existing entry level wireless protocols Zigbee and Z-wave will be compatible, so not quite as universal as the marketing would have you believe.

Our experts also see entry level smart home devices struggle. A common issue is software updates creating performance and network visibility issues and that is just when the products are not expected to work with other manufacturer’s devices, which will also be dealing with their own software updates. The pitfalls are numerous to say the least.

You wouldn’t let an inexperienced mechanic employed by a huge multi-national corporation design and then service a high-performance car, right? so why risk a similar scenario with a luxury smart home project? Matter can’t and won’t reach the performance we demand.

Removing risk is a key part of the Philharmonic offering as is creating high-performance systems designed specifically for every customer and project, constructed around rock-sold infrastructure that delivers peace of mind, luxury, entertainment and convenience, no matter how big the challenge!

Tuned to be in harmony with you

7 February 2022

Steve Harper, Client Services Director, Philharmonic, explains how the company has created the perfect smart home and high-performance AV partner for the London luxury property market.

Every successful business must from time to time assess its core competencies and ensure it is offering a focused and relatable service to the markets it is endeavouring to serve. Recent history, for obvious reasons, has led many companies to focus in on exactly what is it that makes them unique or special. To meet the challenge of a rise in demand for the products and services we offer and to ensure we can deliver support that genuinely chimes with the trades that we partner with (leading architects, developers and interior designers), Philharmonic has completed a rebranding and refocusing exercise to ensure we are 100% on task to deliver the smart home and AV experiences the luxury property market needs.

If you are an architect, interior designer or developer working in London and the South of the UK, the increase in demand around smart home and luxury AV experiences is a phenomenon that is key to ensuring you deliver what your customers want, giving your projects an edge. But how do you identify a company that can deliver all of these experiences, reliably and expertly? A desire to make this challenge as easy as possible is behind our refocused approach.

Experts in our field 

Like many companies in our sector, we have completed many different types of projects since coming into the market. In total we have collected 75 years of smart home engineering experience in our team completing a huge number of projects, some of them award winning. We have had success in many parts of our sector, but assessing all of our history led to the inescapable conclusion, that where we really excel is servicing the London and S.E luxury property market. This sector is showing huge growth potential with penetration into luxury new builds and refurbishments for smart home and AV still at relatively modest levels, but with demand growing.

Initiatives such as a new website, a refocusing of roles within the company and increased social media activity across the board, are just a few of the highlights in our efforts to ensure that trades that want to add smart home and luxury AV experiences to their projects have a partner that is easily identifiable. 

Our team is able to deliver smart home functionality such as intelligent lighting/shading, security systems, HVAC and environmental control, Wi-Fi/home networking as well as high-performance entertainment systems such as home cinemas.

These systems do not exist in a vacuum however, Philharmonic is structured to ensure that all of the services are designed in concert with our developer, interior design and architect partners with a full understanding of the overall aim for the project and an appreciation of the challenges all these different disciplines face.It’s time for a smart home partner who understands your business, time to work in harmony with Philharmonic.

Philharmonic: Luxury Audio Visual Experts, Smarthome Integration Specialists, Aftercare & Maintenance. Get in touch to find out more.

Where To Begin With Home Cinema Design & Install?

14 January 2022

Many people are realising that they would love to have enhanced home entertainment experiences, maybe their friends have a home cinema, maybe they have read about them on-line, but where do you start in creating one of your own? 

Entertainment has become a lot more personal and accessible; we can get to the content we want quite easily, but what if you want that content to be presented in a more engaging and high-quality way? Commercial cinemas can be impersonal and of questionable quality, even the good ones force you to spend long periods of time in a darkened room with a load of strangers. These days, many people simply do not want to put themselves through that experience. 

Yes, some movie theatres can offer high-quality images and sound, but that same technology is readily available for the home consumer as well. Not only is a home cinema more inviting and welcoming, but it is also a place in your home where you can escape and really indulge in some proper down time. Home cinemas often become the most popular room in the house.

One of the biggest decisions you will need to make for your home cinema will be choosing a location in your home. While many homeowners prefer converting their unused spaces such as attic or basement, it’s also a popular option to transform existing spaces to offer full screen immersion with surround sound. These days as well as dedicated cinema spaces, it is also possible to weave systems into the fabric of an existing living space so it does not impact on the décor and remains hidden until called on.   

However, whether you want conversion, transformation or new build, there is always a right system available for your room. As well as spacing, it is important to get the size and shape correct, as well as deciding upon a TV or a projector.

With the help of integrated lighting systems, it is also possible to attain true cinematic experiences where lighting plays an important part in ensuring true immersion. A perfectly isolated cinema room offers fantastic light and audio distribution where both are well-placed and interior design is carefully crafted to prevent the sound from reverberating around the room.

At Philharmonic, we specialise in transforming any room in into perfect entertainment spaces for watching films and TV shows, playing games and enjoying surround sound. Whether you want invisible speakers in the walls, cinema seats or a hidden TV, our experienced teamwork with you from design to installation to meet your bespoke needs and create your ultimate reality.

Our custom designed smart home systems provide the perfect multimedia and immersive experiences from any source, on any screen type. We incorporate high-resolution audio, best-in-class surround sound, high-definition TV and customised lighting to complete the experience.

The Boom In Home Entertainment Experiences

14 January 2022

Steve Harper, Client Services Director, Philharmonic examines the rise and rise of high-quality home entertainment. 

The COVID 19 pandemic has changed people’s attitudes to a great many things. Perhaps people have realised they want to achieve a better life work balance, perhaps prioritise family and leisure time over long hours and often unnecessary meetings and travelling. Whilst some sectors such as hospitality have suffered under the pandemic, the smart home and entertainment sector has boomed as customers want to create home environments that better meet their needs, not just on a practical level, but when it comes to having fun too. Enquiries right across the country have increased significantly for smart home systems, home cinemas, audio visual systems such as multi-room music and viewing installations and other forms of entertainment too.  

Philharmonic developed implemented stringent rules and practices for continuing to work in clients homes when lockdowns were in force and were inundated with enquiries for ‘home entertainment upgrades’. The most popular of which have been dedicated Home Cinema spaces and Golf & Multi-Sport Simulators, the latter being one of the fastest-growing products in the dedicated entertainment space category. This trend shows no sign of slowing down as (hopefully) we move back towards a more predictable situation as the vaccines have done their work. 

Home cinema

The way we enjoy the latest movies is in the middle of a monumental shift that started way before Coronavirus ever hit our shores with Netflix and other streaming services pushing ‘at home premieres’ for a long time. Now, to win revenue by releasing some of their titles via streaming services at a premium price point, the major movie studios are allowing that paradigm shift. Other options are also available such as high-performance movie storage and delivery systems such as Kaleidescape, that take things to another level again. 

Sadly, for many the experience of watching a new movie on their TV and soundbar doesn’t quite stir the pleasure centres in the same way as a decent quality commercial cinema experience would. However, with the technology we now have available, its entirely possible to create and surpass the experience of a good commercial cinema right at home. And the price points this can be achieved for, will surprise you. 

Golf & multi-sports simulation

Not the first thing that might come to mind when designing or building a home, but with people more than ever focused on how they spend their time at home and gaming now the fastest growing technology market in the world – simulation is one of the natural next steps in residential entertainment spaces. With shot tracing technology commonplace at driving ranges and entertainment venues like TopGolf, golfers that have the disposable income are now looking to integrators to deliver authentic virtual sports experiences in their homes.

Aside from golf, some brands such as High Definition Golf are market leaders in ‘multi-sports’ which put simply, based on the same camera platform as the golf simulators, can deliver authentic and fun games across a multitude of other sports and games, including but not limited to; Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, Ice Hockey, American Football, Clay-Pigeon Shooting and Bowling.

How Does This Affect Design and Build?

During the initial stages of any home design or build it is important to ascertain from the customer if they plan to have any home entertainment or simulation system installed, not just from a cabling perspective, but also because some of the systems require non-standard ceiling heights (anything up to 3.5m) to install properly. If you require any guidance on designing the right space for home cinema or simulation, please get in touch with our team by emailing or calling 0207 887 2424

Get Smart About Interior Design

14 January 2022

Steve Harper, Client Services Director, Philharmonic, explains the four main reasons interior designers should be partnering with a smart home specialist to meet the growing demand for high-quality automation and AV systems.  

Lighting the way in automation

In the past, the cost of automated lighting and shading control was prohibitive for all but the most luxurious properties, but for the ones that did utilise it, the results were breath-taking. The ability to manage both natural and unnatural light to produce lighting scenes that fit every mood or occasion is something that nobody wishes to be without once experiencing for the first time. So, what’s changed? Well, Moore’s Law of technology has been consistent and is now delivering automated lighting and shading to us at a lower entry cost than ever. Brands such as Lutron, Control4, Crestron and Rako are all bringing more cost-effective solutions to market, pushing smart lighting to be one of the main lead generators in the smart home market. Bringing smart lighting and shading into your consultation process is one thing, but integrating into other home systems and ensuring your design manifests in the way you wish it to is a skill in itself.

Get connected to the new trends 

We may as well face facts, most of us are now slaves to being connected. Whether it is the power for our mobile devices or Wi-Fi for our internet browsing, we are more tethered than ever to the things that allow us to be anywhere at any time. When buying a new car, instead of the convenience features being a CD changer and a cigarette lighter, we are now faced with choices like a wireless charging station and Apple CarPlay. Ultimately, we all want convenience at home too, but the definition of what is important has changed and is continuing to evolve. Convenience in the home now could be defined in many ways, but from a technology perspective, it could be as simple as getting connected and staying connected. While it may not be an instinct of the interior designer to consider Wi-Fi connectivity in the design process of a room, this consideration is built into every project we integrators work on – ensuring that both wired and wireless connectivity is robust and reliable in every room of the home. Its such an integral part of most people’s lives now, not just for home control, entertainment, but for work, that its absence if felt most keenly.  

Either hidden or attractive

One of the biggest misconceptions about smart homes and integration is that it is often, ugly and on show. Big round metal grilles on ceiling speakers and plastic, ‘functional’ light switches that do not fit with the décor. Nothing could be further from the truth in today’s luxury residences. Speaker manufacturers now have entire ranges of speakers designed to deliver performance while staying totally incognito. Methods are different; some opt for micro-perforated, colour matchable grilles while some have developed speakers that can be plastered into the wall and play sound through the plaster. As far as lighting is concerned, companies offering design-led, smart home compatible light switches are a dime a dozen and the results are stunning. If you think that there is no place for technology in a space, then make sure you consult with an integration partner as there is a product for almost every situation to help your client have the best of both worlds.

The tables are turning

The hardest thing about being a smart home integrator is that you are often late to the party when designing or building a home. Since COVID-19 however, the tide on this seems to be turning in terms of client’s priorities. More and more people are appreciating and prioritising their home entertainment capabilities in order to suit a more home-based existence. Interior designers should also expect more and more to find electrical and AV integrators brought in on projects at the same time and treated almost as one entity. Make sure you can recommend those services when a potential client comes calling, as this may be the difference between them choosing you and a competitor.

Sky Glass, the shape of things to come?

14 January 2022

With AV products moving towards a Wi-Fi and Internet Protocol (IP) connected future, the role of the smart home integrator becomes even more vital for top performance and reliability argues Steve Harper, Client Services Director, Philharmonic.

Sky made a big noise at the end of last year with the announcement of a new concept that combines access to its content platforms with a TV of its own called Sky Glass. We have had the 55″ version in our hands for a while now and have some thoughts on its introduction, the technology it uses and what this means for the future of integrated smart homes. 

Sky Glass

The headline from a technical point of view is that this product does not use a satellite dish, instead it uses the internet to deliver access to all content and the home’s network to offer multi-room viewing functionality. 

This fully online approach is the future for many product categories across the AV space and in many ways is the next logical step in smart home integration and AV systems. However, there is a problem. Many home networks, supported as they are by indifferent routers offered for free by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), are simply not good enough to support a product such as this. Sky is a mass-market brand and offers a good range of content as well as a growing number of streaming apps such as Netflix, Disney+ and Prime, however the hardware does not always match the standard of the content. Combine the pretty standard Wi-Fi performance of both the average home and the Sky Glass platform and you are going to end up with quite a few disappointed viewers. 

Sky Glass

The solution

So, what is the answer to getting the right performance for concepts like this? 

Homeowners, developers and interior designers, should think about partnering with a smart home installation company that understands the pitfalls and how to solve them. The first step in solving this issue is knowing how to create a solid home network in a range of properties, modern and period, during a renovation project or a new build. Also, genuine on the ground knowledge is vital. Sky has a habit of making some of its hardware ‘incompatible’ with Wi-Fi equipment not manufactured in-house. The Sky Q boxes for example do not play nice with non-Sky internet routers. This is a problem as they are not the most powerful and to upgrade to a truly reliable network pro level equipment is needed. Our engineers, like other top operators in the smart home integration market, know how to get around these issues, so finding the right partner from our industry is a step in the right direction. 

Sky Glass

As for the Sky Glass product itself, the build quality is not the best and frankly there are better options currently if you want big screen entertainment with access to loads of content and a great picture. 

Sky is a great content provider, and we often use its services as a source for high-quality AV systems. Perhaps Sky Glass will improve in later versions, so never say never, but for the very best results consult your local friendly AV and smart home expert. Wi-Fi and IP connectivity is definitely the future and it will provide some exciting opportunities to control, entertain and inform, but like most cutting-edge tech, it needs careful management and knowledgeable professionals to deliver its full potential.   

Discuss Sky Glass and other home audio visual technology with one of our experts today. Visit our Contact Us page.

Never has the demand for Luxury AV and Smarthome Integration been greater. . .

8 December 2021

Steve Harper, Client Services Director at Philharmonic, explains why.

The automated home and high-performance entertainment sector is on a high with many businesses reporting their most successful period on record. This phenomenon is set to continue and increase for 2022 and will see many more homeowners, developers, interior designers and investors increase their interest in and demand for these types of systems and functionality.

The past 18 months has of course been a very difficult one for many sectors with industries such as travel and hospitality suffering for obvious reasons under COVID 19 restrictions and the associated cultural shifts that have occurred because of those restrictions. However, some industries have seen significant increases in demand for their services, particularly sectors which focus on the ‘home’.

As restrictions and the expansion of home working meant more people were spending significantly more time at home, demand for more efficient, more entertaining and more relaxing spaces has increased significantly. The most recent past has also seen the early beginnings of a more permanent shift in culture, where a desire to re-think work/life balance and to explore more thoroughly how home-life can be improved has emerged. 

Demand has increased across the board with interest in fully automated homes, intelligent lighting and shades, multi-room entertainment systems, home cinemas, smart security systems supported by a strong network/Wi-Fi infrastructure reaching levels never seen before.

Looking ahead and to support that demand, interior designers, developers and architects needs partner companies that take high-performance delivery, customer care and reliability as seriously as they do, so seeking a company with a proven track record of delivering results across different types of projects and different types of building stock, period and modern is essential.

Partnering with an expert in the luxury AV and smart home field early on in a project gives all involved the space and the peace of mind that this aspect of the project is in safe hands and key stakeholders can get on with delivering the complete vision for the project. 

As for me, my role involves developing and evolving our relationships with new and existing design partners, including architects and interior designers. This includes managing our market positioning, managing pre-sales activities and contract negotiation. I am supported by a team with an excess of 75 years of experience in the sector.

Philharmonic: Luxury Audio Visual Experts, Smarthome Integration Specialists, Aftercare & Maintenance.

Get in touch to find out more.