With news and entertainment programming available on smartphones and tablets, and even cleverly disguised television screens increasingly perceived as taking up precious wall space, the value of owning a TV has come under serious questioning. For those enquiring, Samsung has a compelling answer. In partnership with San Francisco-based Yves Béhar of Fuseproject, the company has introduced The Frame, a super-smart HD television that seamlessly transitions into a sophisticated art display when not in entertainment mode. Users can select from a curated library of contemporary works by Todd Eberle, Luisa Lambri and Barry McGee, among others, as well as browse sale catalogues, watch live auctions and more through Sotheby’s app for Samsung Smart TVs. We spoke with Béhar about The Frame’s boundary-pushing design and the future of invisible technology.
The Frame looks simple, but the path from initial concept to final product was complicated. Can you talk about your process?
For me, the design process always begins with an idea – hopefully a big idea, such as, “How do we get rid of TV’s black screen?” Our process was focused on achieving a magical user experience, in which art would be the centrepiece of the room and the product would automatically adjust to lighting conditions in order to not look like a screen. We spent two years developing this experience, and the result is the first television with discreet, built-in brightness and motion sensors that enable the display of art that fits in with the environment. We were intent on making the experience a celebration of the art – not a visual distraction. I believe that we are giving people access to a virtual museum right in their homes.
Was it challenging to balance the technological requirements with aesthetics?
In order to deliver the automatic brightness adjustment and the motion detection, we had to integrate new technologies in ways that are invisible to users. With the Samsung engineering team, we were able to hide these elements and make the beautiful materials and composition of The Frame the main attraction. Once we decided to literally frame the display as a piece of art, we figured out how to mount it flat against the wall, just like a framed piece of art would be.
Are we moving toward more technology being thoughtfully integrated into the home?
Absolutely – I am a firm believer that technology should be invisible. The smart, connected home of the future won’t have screens and interfaces all over it. Rather, smart products will be seamlessly integrated. The Frame is a perfect example of this: people work hard to hide their TVs, but The Frame isn’t hidden – it gives you the best television experience while enhancing a home with art.
How is viewing a digital version of an artwork different from seeing the original?
Part of what is so special about The Frame’s collection is that the artists specifically selected works they thought would be best viewed on it. The art is scanned in extraordinarily high definition, and given that the TV itself is also 4K Ultra HD, the detail, colour and depth are absolutely stunning. The brightness sensor then ensures the art looks as real as possible, so that if you have other art around The Frame, each work will have the same overall lighting quality.
How did you go about selecting which artists to feature?
With San Francisco-based curator Elise Van Middelem, we chose a selection that stands out as exclusive but that is also diverse enough to go into homes around the world. The artists represented are from every continent, a mix of genders and ages as well as of artistic mediums. They have all expressed enthusiasm for being in our art programme – not only because they feel it is a beautiful way to display their work, but also because this is an opportunity to bring art into homes in a way that is still authentic to them.
Did artists create new works for The Frame?
For the initial collection, the artists contributed existing works and some new ones that they felt would be best displayed in this medium. Since our launch in March, they have developed new pieces specifically for The Frame. Other partners are contributing collections, Sotheby’s among them.
What’s next for you and Samsung?
We’ve been working with Samsung for nearly a decade, exploring innovations in the way we bring technology into our residences. The Frame will continue to be a platform we build on, with more art and unique ways to contribute to a home’s ambience and personality.
For more information, visit samsung.com/us/frame-tv.
LEAD IMAGE: DESIGNER YVES BÉHAR’S HIGH-CONCEPT SMART TV FOR SAMSUNG ADAPTS TO ITS OWNERS’ ART AND DESIGN PREFERENCES.