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Home Entertainment Takes Center Stage

22 Apr, 2002 By: Hive News

It's not just the electronics world that home video has changed forever. Even furniture is changing to fit state-of-the art technology into people's lives, as evidenced at this week's International Home Furnishings Market.

“The home entertainment/home theater category is creating enormous excitement at the spring International Home Furnishings Market,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, VP of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association (AFMA). “Consumers are spending more time at home, and much of that time is spent in front of the television watching the latest movies or sports events. Sales of new widescreen and rear-projection TVs are booming, and many consumers are in the market for stylish new furniture designed to house the latest electronics.”

Among the manufacturers with extensive new offerings in home entertainment/home theater this spring are Bush, Hooker, Sauder, Sligh and Stanley. Scores of other manufacturers also are tapping into this rapidly changing arena.

New home entertainment offerings easily house additional components including speakers for surround sound, DVD, VCR and CD players and satellite system receivers. Cord management systems provide space to hide wiring.

Sligh, a producer of clocks and home office furnishings, is entering the home entertainment category for the first time this market. Styles include casual traditional, contemporary, West Indies, transitional, formal traditional and cottage, with prices ranging from $1,850 to $6,220. Sligh also is featuring a new patent-pending media organization system with movable separators to create a versatile, customized way to arrange cassettes, videotapes, CDs, DVDs and other entertainment items.

Sligh is building flexible products that can easily adapt to new technology.

“Because the product cycle in TV technology is so quick, we needed to build in ways to make these products adjustable for many different product dimensions,” said Jeff Pulver, Sligh's product development manager.

Kelly Cain, SVP/product manager of home entertainment at Stanley, said, “Big-screen TVs have moved to the mainstream because they are more affordable. As HDTV becomes more readily available, the growth in sales of wide-screen TVs is expected to grow dramatically as well. Our challenge is to create furniture that keeps up with the newest electronics without sacrificing style.”

Stanley's home entertainment introductions have been reengineered for developments in technology. The company's entertainment units house widescreen TVs from 36 to 43 inches and the light bridge of its home theater configurations provide the flexibility to suit big- screen rear-projection TVs from 50 to 73 inches wide.

Hooker is offering a number of new products this spring, including a home theater cabinet with pocket doors to conceal a big-screen TV, mid-height wall units to accommodate up to 36-inch TVs, a high-definition, wide-screen TV cabinet to accommodate up to a 46-inch-wide TV, and new corner TV cabinets in a lower height that does not dominate a room.

Bush Industries, the nation's eighth largest furniture manufacturer, added a variety of new styles to its collection of home theater furniture this spring. The Universal collection, which the company is billing as the “entertainment center of the future,” features an exclusive silver finish and a futuristic V-based design that reflects the contemporary styling of today's flat-screen TVs and audio components.

Sauder's new Willow Falls collection focuses on making the home a welcoming, high-tech haven, with eight new home entertainment designs. New pieces include three entertainment centers, a home theater, an entertainment armoire, a universal stand and an audio pier, all geared to today's electronic components. Sauder also is expanding existing collections with new entertainment pieces.

“The traditional comforts of home have taken on new meaning to today's Americans,” said Susan Dountas, VP of merchandising for Sauder. “They are seeking home entertainment furnishings that nurture their private worlds, enrich their ties with friends and enhance their connections to the world at large.”

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