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Published: Friday, December 04, 2015

Welcome to this, the second annual ITSAs, the CI industry’s original – and currently only – independent awards, conceived to give something back to the heroes of custom install that have helped us to fill our pages each issue for over the past 12 years of SVI’s existence.

Sponsored this year by all-powerful advanced HDMI distribution designers, Blustream, and judged by a unquestionable quartet of custom install critics consisting of CEDIA EMEA’s Chairman, Kris Hogg, CEDIA EMEA’s Operations Director, Matt Nimmons, head of renowned industry PR company RSPR, Richard Stevenson, and SVI’s very own editor, me, once more the standard of entries was impressively high and the judging extraordinarily difficult.

But, as with everything in life, there has to be winners; and following some lively debate between our judges, a little bit of unfortunate adjudicator argy bargy and, tragically, even some out-of-control tie-breaker CI assessor slap-down, the entries that excelled arose to the top of each of our categories and our winners made clear.

As with last year our ITSA 2015 winner will receive not only the considerable kudos of coming first, but also a certificate of CI superiority to display proudly wherever they so see fit, the full install story published within our hallowed page and, most importantly, the knowledge that four of the industry’s finest minds found their work to be first and foremost amongst the custom install world’s very best.

We’d like to say a big than you to all our entrants – competition was extremely tough this year, possibly even more so than last year, and scoring was incredibly tight. Naturally, as they say at Primary School Sports’ Days, you’re all winners in our eyes… it’s just some are more the winners. Ahem.
So, without further ado, let’s cut to the chase and view, in all their glory, 2015’s ITSA champions of Custom Install!

BEST DESIGN: CORNFLAKE //1 awaiting pics//

Project Name:
Polished Perfection

To design and install a cutting-edge media room again almost impossible interior design odds – namely working with the current trend for refurbishing super homes using ‘polished plaster’, a modern take on the traditional Italian plaster finishes that give either a highly polished Venetian plaster, the Marmorino effect, or a more rugged textured look. Consisting of slaked lime, marble dust, and/or marble chips which gives each plaster its own distinctive look, the plaster is applied over a primer and a base coat built up from one to four hard layers which is then finished (or burnished) with a steel trowel to a smooth glasslike sheen, before being sealed with a layer of wax for protection – visually stunning but an acoustically reflective and brittle nightmare!

Despite the odds, Cornflake came through it tremendous style and the resulting room grabbed the admiring eyes of our judges.

Client Verdict:
“The room turned out exactly as our architect and interior designer designed it. We had reservations that the CI team would not be able to work with the chosen palette of materials and finishes or that they would be unable to deliver a system capable of counteracting the room’s hard features. To our amazement they turned the challenge on its head and designed a scheme that works perfectly; we didn’t need to change a thing. The AV system definitely lives up to the desired spec and looks (and sounds) as good as the room. We were delighted with the team’s professional thought process, technical advice and management of the whole installation. From a client’s perspective it was refreshing they worked as a cohesive team with our main contractor and the designers, ensuring a great result for us and all parties.”


Project Name:
The Ultimate Sophistication

Our client wanted to have an automated control system in his house that would enable him to control different aspects of his life from a single and automated system, including his iPhone and iPad. The mutual requirement from both the client and the interior designer was that any system installed had to be unobtrusive to the interior decor. They wanted to maintain the consistency of the interior decor as much as possible, so any technological edition had to be considered with design and simplicity in mind.

Another key requirement was the implementation of the security system in this home automation set-up, where client would have easy access to monitoring his security features. A data network that provides full-house Wi-Fi network throughout the house would also be needed to enable our client to conduct business from with no problems.
Finite’s finished work truly embodies the best of CI, hitting the brief head-on, overcoming install issues with aplomb and delivering a project to be proud of.

Client Verdict:
The client loves the system – particularly how easy it is to use. We built in some self-healing features (such as ability to remotely cycle power to Sky box) to make looking after and managing the system as easy as possible.


Project Name:
Sun Deck – Portable Cinema

The Sun Deck upgrade was to include a high-end cinema system. The system would be ‘portable’ allowing the engineering crew to set-up the cinema when required.

Performance-wise, the picture and sound quality were to be considered as Reference. The equipment should be as ‘invisible’ as possible when in use and when not in use the system would be stowed. A screen size of four metres wide could act as a ‘sail’ on the top deck of a large yacht.

A challenging project that required a large number of element to be taken into account, MESL claim their second ITSA this year by, yet again, dazzling our judges with a work of installation art.

Unfortunately, due to privacy issues and the fact that the selfish owner has been on the yacht since it set sail, images of the finalised work are not yet available. However, we hope to have some soon for when we run the entire install story. In the meantime…

Client Verdict:
The project was completed in time for the spring 2015 season and, saying it all really, is one of the owner’s favourite features of the yacht. As such, talks are now underway for the owner’s second yacht.


Project Name:
Crestron Showroom

Not so much a brief as a piece of design innovation that combines cutting-edge CI kit and cool design, Crestron’s Chelsea-based space is the ideal setting for clients, architects, interior designers, property developers, consultants, integrators and media to discover the very best that today’s home automation has to offer. It is the only technology showroom within the DCCH, which is at the hub of the design professional community.

Featuring two sophisticated living room spaces, with home cinema capability, a stylish kitchen/bar area, a work study/boardroom and a product display area, the showroom showcases everything from luxurious cinema room technology to fully integrated environmental and AV controls – with the latest in energy monitoring and management. A state-of-the-art boardroom is fully functioning and is also being used for CPDs, presentations and meetings as well as a demonstration area for Crestron dealers to take their customers.

Client Verdict:
“Thanks for facilitating our recent visit to your Chelsea showroom, which was very informative and productive.  Crestron has clearly put a lot of thought into the layout of the showroom and for us, it was useful to see the different room configurations, which helped us scope out our requirements for our penthouse apartments.  It was really beneficial to see the complete faceplate, monitor and speaker range area, to view options and discuss the detailed requirements. We also appreciated being able to view the processor rack equipment and lighting enclosures, to better understand the space requirements for these.”

Nigel Atkinson, Project Director, Technology, Construction – Europe


Project Name:
Hill House Cinema

Recommended by associates of the client who Seven had worked for before, the new client was experiencing issues with their home automation system. Given responsibility for not only the system design, but the interior design and room construction, Seven were charged with liaising with other contractors on-site to produce a room that exceed the dreams of the client.

Did they rise to the challenge? Just take a look at the photos, alongside the fact that our ITSA judges were all hugely impressed.

Client Verdict:
Completed to a non-negotiable deadline with a day to spare, the first thing the family did was to sit and enjoy a family movie in this phenomenal nine seat cinema, listening to 3D surround sound that is probably as close to technically perfect as it’s possible to get. Cinema doesn’t get any more satisfying.


Project Name:
Impressive Hampstead Family Home

The client had previous experience of Lutron lighting control and had used Sonos systems before so understood the benefits of multi-room audio. However the concept of integrating these, along with all his AV control, heating and security into a single control system was new to him but once Cyberhomes demoed the Savant system to him he was sold on the concept. They were engaged when most of the main construction was completed and first fix electrics were about to commence; so brought into play late in the game, but still with the opportunity to ensure the necessary cabling infrastructure could be installed.

The results of Cyberhomes’ work speak for themselves – a tour de force of custom install in every room they reached, creating a smart house that ticks all the boxes of advanced 21st century living and ups the home automation ante.

Client Verdict:
Smart, sexy and bang on the brief despite being brought in rather late into the development, the client couldn’t have asked for more from this team of innovative installers. A truly deserving winner in what was out toughest category to judge, this is what CI is all about!


Project Name:
The Man Cave

This project proved to certainly one of those that don’t come along too often and truly embodies the ‘custom’ aspect of custom installation.
An existing client wanted to take their basement car park and change it into a one of a kind man cave with the centre-piece being a rotating turntable to park and display one of his supercars. The brief was simple – create a space that Tony Stark would be proud of!

Okay, maybe not that simple… and there is definitely nothing simplistic about what Intuitive Homes devised to meet that brief, the finished product being more Batcave than man cave – a subterranean lair of the utmost finery and some of the coolest controls and presets any man could ever hope for, be he mere man or, indeed as the brief stated, Iron-man.

Client Verdict:
Featuring a custom Crestron interface, designed to reflect Tony Stark’s tech, the owner can now rotate his car at will, whilst detection setting allow the music to strike up and the car to revolve automatically whenever someone steps into the room – and if you don’t think that’s cool, then you should check your pulse.

Hand-picked by ITSA sponsor, Blustream, the honour of being the entry this year judged to stand head and shoulder above all others falls to London’s very own cereal (ahem) custom installers, Cornflake, for their Polished Perfection project.

As such, not only do Cronflake get another industry gong to add to their collection, but also win an EX100ARC-KIT from Blustream’s Platinum Range of HDBaseT products. Offering the most advanced performance and flexibility on the market, the HEX100ARC extender set is an industry leading 4K UHD HDBaseT solution delivering HDMI, Bi-directional IR and PoH (PoE) up to lengths of 100 metres over a single CAT cable. The HEX100ARC also provides enhanced features including ARC and Audio breakout, RS-232 pass through, and an integrated 3-way Ethernet switch.

So, many thanks to our panel of judges for their time, effort and smouldering good looks, to the fresh-faced innovators of advanced HDMi distribution at Blustream, and hearty congratulations to all of our ITSA 2015 winners.

And remember: it’s never too soon to start compiling your entries for ITSA 2016!


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