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Ideas 08 - to be or not to be - tv feature wall

1 - feature walls


Designers often received tons of consultancy from friends about tv feature walls.


For most of us, feature wall is one of the most important decoration at home. Neighbors at new residential blocks like to gather and the top topic would always be : how are you going to renovate your tv feature wall??

Feature wall therefore is no longer about its own look, but more about your taste ranking among all the neighbors. One well-done feature wall has to be modern and fashionable, meanwhile unique and outstanding.


People tend to believe city boys and girls have better aesthetics in renovation, and in the feature walls.


According to my in-comprehensive observation over years, I noticed that: at cities with higher unit price of properties, the less feature walls are concerned.


So why is it? Is feature wall no longer a fashion focus in interior design? Or is it because we can no longer afford the properties, let alone an expense on feature walls?


2 - tv outlook and social classes


Most of the tv sets we see nowadays are a rectangular black flat monitor. This is the look after 100 years of development. When tv set was first invented, designers were not sure about the appearance.


They looked like this:

It’s the road map of tv’s life transformation from 1928 to 2007. Before 1957, tv sets often embedded itself in a cabinet in the living rooms while after 1957, they suddenly break through the cabinet as furniture but emphasize its sensation of futurism.


One to hide, and the other to show. Why so different? This phenomenon dates back to different attitudes towards tv watching from different social classes.


In the book <class>, author talked about the it.


Back in 1950s, it was believed by people that tv and tv programs were cheap. Upper class wouldn’t watch tv while middle class liked to decorate tv as a furniture. They might hide it in the cabinet or behind the paintings of mirrors.


Apart from hiding, british critic Peter Conrad noticed, some upper class brought tv set into book cupboards so to use cultured books to reduce the vulgarity. Probably it was the first idea of tv feature wall in history.


On contrary, the middle class and lower class loved having tv at home. Tv was not only shown off in living rooms, but occupied a big proportions of leisure time in families. In these houses, tv played much big role with its existence.

No matter within which classes, people had their own ideas on hiding or showing tvs.


3- tv feature wall, or not?


Up to this day, the outlook of a tv set is a black rectangular screen. So the status of tv has transformed to the renovation ideas on feature walls.



The upper left picture shows the symmetry of the two windows with the tv at centre while the right picture has the tv at the corner to conceal it with surrounding paintings. Both are feature walls but with different purposes. To show and to hide.


Just like the relationship between tv and social status, the two design of feature wall represents two different life styles.


In old days, we didn’t have much entertainments at home. Thus tv was the centre of home activities. We’d like to focus on decorate it.


This singular core of life had turned the living room as the centre of our daily routine. So naturally, tv wall had became an important stage for attentions.


Today when we can access much more information with better technologies, tv is no longer the only choice for leisure. We also have smart phones, ipads, and kindles etc, and moreover, yoga, gym, painting, reading etc.

So we have different function zones, including reading zone, gym zone, gaming zone and work zone etc. It’s a method of no-centre design.


4 – partially or wholly??


I wonder if any of you who’s reading this, have such experience: when you try to explain about your design without a feature wall to your senior relatives or friends, they wouldn’t understand and even get confused. For them, feature walls are the origin of aesthetic. Once they are canceled, the home has nothing to show.


In fact, no feature walls don’t mean anything but that our demand on home design is getting higher and higher.


For example, we talked about multi-functional space. This type of open space LDK with combined living room, dining room and kitchen shows all furniture. More efforts need to be put in for cohesion and match to make sure the whole space is in a harmonious form.


At the same time, open space means less partition walls. We have no extra walls for pure decoration purpose. Tv could only be placed at corners.


For luxurious homes which requires broader perspectives, the building facades are often built with full-height glazing windows and doors. Walls can be hardly seen.


Some tv manufacturers also realized this problem. Free-standing tv sets are common nowadays. Some even include a built-in storage space.


It is also quite common now that traditional tv set stands with movable shelf or bracket. Tv can be moved to any position in the house so that the layout is ultterly flexible.


In the past, we allowed feature wall to stand out alone. But now we can evenly distribute the beauty in different areas, such as furnitures, lighting, plants, paintings and arts to improve the user experience.


In conclusion, open and diverse modern life style drives us pursue the design integrity, other than partial effect like one feature wall.


I’m writing this article not to criticize feature walls. I just want to share with you that besides tv walls, there are other options. When the space becomes lively and interesting, tv walls shouldn’t be the only standard for judgement of interior design. So we can let it go and achieve what we believe as life for each of us.


- the end -

About the author:

草三冉 Cao San Ran

is an interior designer and writer, based in Canton area, China. He has been working in design industry for over a decade both in Japan and China. His works are always well-thought-out in layouts and details to ensure the unique and best hierarchy solutions for each client. His great writings also put an in-depth theory into an accurate but simple explanation that made me a big fan of his.

If you read Chinese, scan above QR code to read more articles in Chinese from 草三冉.

I will be happy to translate more of his works to share with English readers.

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