Serif TV from Samsung, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: It’s designed like a piece of furniture.

Is Samsung’s Redesigned TV Hideous or a Work of Art?

Is Samsung’s Redesigned TV Hideous or a Work of Art?

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
Sept. 23 2015 12:58 PM

Is Samsung’s Redesigned TV Hideous or a Work of Art?

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Samsung’s new Serif TV designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec comes in three colors and sizes.

Courtesy of Studio Bouroullec

The TV set was once a hulking piece of furniture that had pride of place in living rooms around the world. But ever since the flat screen became standard, tech designers have focused on making them ever slimmer. And interior designers have found clever ways to hide them behind vanishing TV mirrors and sliding panels.

But this week at the London Design Festival, Samsung unveiled a design-conscious TV that is built to stake its claim in a room like any other piece of furniture or object.

“Samsung Serif TV does not belong to the world of technology but the world of furniture and design,” reads a press release about the product. “Breaking away from the pre-occupation with ultra-flat screens,” it says, the new TV “provides consumers with a more elegant viewing experience by being designed to sit naturally within the home.”

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Courtesy of Studio Bouroullec

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Designed by French brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, the Serif TV is inspired by the look of a capital I. While it resembles a solid object from the front, its serif-inspired design can be clearly seen in profile.

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Courtesy of Studio Bouroullec

The Serif TV can stand on removable spindly retro legs or sit comfortably on a shelf thanks to its flared serif bottom (and its equally flared top creates a slim shelf for decorative objects).

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The Serif TV has removable legs and can sit on a shelf thanks to its stable serif-inspired flared base.

Courtesy of Studio Bouroullec

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The flared serif-inspired top was designed to act as a shelf for objects.

Courtesy of Studio Bouroullec

The TV comes in white, dark blue, and red (no black!) and in 24-, 32-, and 40-inch sizes. A magnetic fabric panel in the back hides wires.

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Courtesy of Studio Bouroullec

“Samsung Serif TV deploys shapes and colours that have broken away from the usual themes of masculine, cutting edge technology and extra-large size,” Erwan Bouroullec said in a press release. “Our TV is more subtle; it doesn’t exude power and is made to fit into the world we live in.”

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The Bouroullec brothers working on the Serif TV design.

Courtesy of Studio Bouroullec

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Whether people will want to embrace the concept of TV as furniture is a matter of taste. Fast Company called it “an unexpected design masterpiece,” perfect for small-space dwelling design nerds; the Verge deemed it “a font of ugly.”

But if the design seems to be looking to the past for inspiration, the Bouroullec brothers also redesigned the existing Samsung TV software and remote, most notably adding a feature called “curtain mode” that allows you to dim the screen during commercials without turning it off. “Like pulling a curtain over the screen, the user interface applies a filter over the content giving an abstract impression of what is going on behind,” reads a project description on the Samsung website. “When ‘curtain mode’ is active, viewers can access simple services such as a clock, Bluetooth speakers, apps and their photo gallery.”

The Serif TV will be available commercially in Europe starting Nov. 2.

Check out the video by Dezeen for Samsung below to hear the brothers talking about the design process:

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.