Now you see it . . .
Somewhere in the leafiest part of Surrey, in the luxurious drawing room of a grand country estate owned by a wealthy international businessman, lies a well-hidden secret.
Visitors, including captains of industry, ambassadors and politicians, are no doubt impressed by the man's collection of Georgian antiques and his elegant 24-carat gilded Regency chiffonier bookcase, with its marble top and silk-lined shelves holding first-edition books. Yet most would be surprised to learn that the latter piece has a dual purpose. It is not 200 years old but a new museum-quality reproduction that serves as camouflage for a slimline plasma television, which can be called forth, at the tap of a button, from behind the books through a panel in the marble. It's just one example of a growing trend towards ingenious concealment of technology.
"The advent of flat-screen TVs means that people can have them anywhere they like and can conceal them in the most unlikely places," says David Salmon, maker of the chiffonier and other bespoke furniture. "Clients who like a traditional look and fine pieces of furniture still want modern entertainment. This piece is now in a formal show-off drawing room where the owner entertains officially and therefore does not want to see a big TV. But at the same time the owner needed to be able to watch the football in there with friends when he wanted.
"The better quality the piece, the less expected it is to find a TV concealed within it. Yet these are totally functioning pieces of furniture, with real books on the shelves. What really surprises people is that the proportions of the furniture are not compromised at all."
Salmon, whose most famous work is a series of copies of Napoleon's campaign chair for most of Europe's royal families, is now frequently contacted by clients who want to slip their TVs into the most unlikely places. One of his favourites is perhaps even more difficult to spot in a panelled library in a fine house in Greenwich, Connecticut. Over the carved mantelpiece, flanked by elaborate sconces and two arched recesses for books, hangs a much-admired oil painting. But when the owners fancy watching a film, the painting (applied to a specially created canvas) simply rolls up into a recess behind the panelling to reveal yet another plasma TV. (The same clients also asked Salmon to make one of the arched bookcases into a secret door.)
Designers of contemporary living spaces are joining in too. In a new fleet of 10 slick, minimalist, Anglo-Italian yachts designed by the architect Norman Foster and currently under construction - and offered for fractional ownership by YachtPlus - the look is ultra-pared-down modern. "We're planning to have a glass wall in every suite that will be painted black except for a cut-out where the mega-plasma screen will be siliconed to the back," explains YachtPlus chief executive Han Verstraete.
"When the TV is turned off, the whole wall looks like just a dark glass panel. But when it's on, the TV lights up from behind the glass and looks like it takes up the whole wall."
现代居住空间设计师也在加入其中。建筑师诺曼•福斯特(Norman Foster)设计了10艘极简主义英意风格的华丽游艇，外观极富简约的现代感。这些游艇目前正在建造，YachtPlus公司将以共享产权的方式出售。“我们计划在每个套间里装上玻璃墙，除了挖空放置超大等离子屏幕的那块面积，墙面均漆成黑色，”YachtPlus首席执行官汉•韦斯特拉特(Han Verstraete)解释说。