We had the opportunity to sit down with Toni Sabatino and Dawn DeLuca, two of New York City’s most inﬂuential Kitchen and Bath Designers, to get their thoughts on technology, design and Samsung.
Toni Sabatino is an award winning interior designer, cabinetry specialist, furniture designer and spatial planner serving the renovation and new construction market throughout the New York Metropolitan Area, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Vermont and other resort locations.
Toni currently serves as the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) Manhattan Chapter President, is a member of the Kitchen and Bath Business Editorial Advisory Board and is the designer of the Retro Collection of bath furniture for Baden Haus, SPA.
Dawn DeLuca, AKBD CLIPP CAPS is a certiﬁed award-winning NYC Interior Designer who specializes in kitchen and bath design. She is the NKBA Manhattan Chapter Programs Chair.
As an Ambassador for the Living In Place Institute and a Design Advisor for The Universal Design Project, Dawn is a passionate advocate for the need of Living In Place and Adaptable Design in all remodeled and new build construction.
Samsung: Thank you for sitting down with us and talking about technology and the interior design process. And, about Samsung TVs.
Toni Sabatino: I love Samsung! When I talk to my clients about design, there is always a moment when TVs come into the conversation. I mean, whether you watch sports or the news or stream content, you’re going to have to decide where the TVs are going to be placed in the space. And so I always start the conversation with, “How big of a TV are you thinking about in the kitchen when you want to catch the morning news with your coffee?” Then I work out where to place it.
And I love Samsung 837 in Manhattan. I just closed three projects based on showing my clients what The Frame is and how it displays art when it’s not being a TV.
Dawn DeLuca: I’m the same way. I own a ton of Samsung TVs personally. Our family has them in both of our homes and what I really like, besides the picture, is the technology. I think of Samsung as the innovation leader. The remotes are intuitive, which is so important when friends stay over and want to watch something in their guest room.
I’m a huge proponent of living-in-place design, so the simpler, more intuitive the technology is – even when we know its amazing – the better it is for my clients. Samsung products are intuitive by design and wonderful for people who are aging and just aren’t going to open a user’s manual to ﬁgure out how to work a product. That’s a huge plus for me when I’m asked to make a recommendation.
Samsung: We’re calling this interview, Technology Meets Design. For you, where does technology intersect design in today’s smart home environment?
TS: We’re really just at that point in time when the Technology Designer (TD) needs to be at the table early on in the conversation. Clients bring me in to look at their plans for a new build or a remodel of an existing space. We start with a lifestyle analysis. How will you be living in this environment? Technology is critical to that analysis. What’s available? What’s coming? How is it incorporated into their daily lives? Bringing in a TD at an early point to help us walk through the spec, pre-wire, what networking is required, lighting, shading, all of that. And explain emerging technologies, because these projects don’t happen overnight.
DD: As designers, we need to talk to a client and say, “here is why you need to have this person as part of your team.” We can start the conversation. Over the course of the project, specs might need to be updated as new technology evolves. So we need someone reliable and professional. And service is critical in this space.
Most interiors designers need to be educated about technology and that’s what a TD can provide. Someone who I trust and can depend on and who can be part of the design team is becoming more critical as the pace of technology accelerates. And I’ll be honest, our NKBA chapter has hundreds of members, but I don’t think there is one technology person involved. And that’s probably not isolated to just our chapter. Now is a golden opportunity for Samsung dealers to sign up to be a part of their local chapter and let people know how cool your stuff is from a design perspective. Get in on our social media campaigns, network within the population. It’s a win-win for everybody. But you must stay committed to the community.
Samsung: Let’s turn the conversation towards our newest technology, speciﬁcally The Frame’s “Art Mode” and QLED’s “Ambient Mode”, two great features we’re proud of. Let’s start with Ambient.
TS: Ambient Mode is super cool. There are a ton of projects that have a minimalist look and a clean-line décor. These people are looking for high-performance that disappears into the background. They want performance, but they don’t want to see it. And Ambient is the personiﬁcation of minimalism when it comes to technology – which is weird to say when you’re talking about a big screen TV!
Look, if I’ve spent a lot of time creating a wall space, whether it’s with paint or fabric, the last thing I want to do is put an 82” big black rectangle on the wall. For that clean look, Ambient can fade into the background until I choose to turn that space into a video presentation. Game changer in my book.
DD: For me, I’ve been in the design world for over 25 years. And I’ve seen just about every trick there is where we try to hide the TV. Mechanized lifters and swivels and TV mounts that just end up being band-aids when it comes to the world of fashionable décor. They just aren’t luxe.
Ambient is where technology meets design in today’s bespoke homes. As Toni mentioned, people don’t want technology, in this case a big screen TV, to be the focal point of the great room. They want their art, their family pictures, the ﬂower arrangements and so on to be what their guests take in when they entertain. And Ambient fulﬁlls that intersection of what I’m going to call blended technology.
Samsung: Wow! That’s great to hear. Tell us your thoughts on The Frame.
TS: Love it. Love it. Love it. A big design feature is always your art collection. And a lot of art is covered with glass, in order to protect the image. So being able to include a TV (that is basically glass) that’s capable of displaying a work of art when it’s not being a TV is an incredible feature.
Every one of my clients are interested in larger screen sizes in the kitchen. Whether they want to watch the news with their morning cup of coffee or watch a cooking video as they experiment in the kitchen, a big TV is a must have. And, being able to show them that when it’s not a TV it’s a work of art or your family photos, they just say, “Oh yeah, I want one of those!”
DD: While The Frame has the wonderful gallery of masterpieces you can display, it is also easy to upload your own photography. For some of us, the very best masterpieces of all are our children’s drawings. And family pictures of important life events. Our photographs. It’s how we mark time. The Frame becomes another piece of artwork and a vehicle to share life’s most important moments.
Samsung: Final thoughts?
TS: The design crowd needs more interaction with Technology Designers. I love Samsung in part because the design center, Samsung 837 in Manhattan, is a great source for me to keep up with what’s going on in technology.
DD: Samsung TVs are more than just TVs, they’re works of art. And that’s something every client of mine is interested in.
And by the way, both of us will be at CEDIA Expo and participating in the Women in Consumer Technology’s TechTalk panel discussing technology and design on Thursday, September 6th from 12:00 to 12:45 PM on the Smart Stage. Please add this to your schedule, we hope to see you there!
The Impact of Technology on Lifestyle Design
Home automation in our intelligent environments has come a long way from the basics of Home Theater. The bold new world of kitchen and bath integration, with cameras to let you see what’s in the fridge while you are at the market, to self-diagnosing appliances that will schedule service for you, to TVs that blend into the wall. What does it all mean?
Panel Host: Toni Sabatino, Owner, Toni Sabatino Style, NKBA Manhattan Chapter President
Melissa Andresko, Communications Director - Public Relations, Lutron Electronics Co., Inc.
Dawn DeLuca, Founder and Principal, Dawn DeLuca On Design
Heather Sidorowicz, Owner, Southtown Audio Video