Today’s television sets are wonderful to look at, even when they’re off. But unless you live in a space station, they may look out of place in your home.
With Samsung’s new Serif TV, designer brothers Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec looked to the past instead for design cues. Drawing inspiration from the wooden-cabinet consoles of yore, they set out to design a set that blends, not stands out. The Serif isn’t a complete throwback, but a modern rethinking of the TV as furniture.
Having previously designed chairs, tables, and an absurdly comfortable couch, the Bouroullec brothers said their inexperience with TVs helped them create something unique. “When you’re young and doing a new subject, you’re possibly going to make many errors,” says Erwan. “But you’re also possibly going to discover a new direction. There’s a lot of rules, and you don’t know them. You work through them without even knowing.”
From the edges of the set, it’s easy to see where “Serif” came from. The 40-inch TV resembles a bold, capital “I” from the side. Erwan says that wasn’t the intent going in, it just turned out that way. They felt the name was a perfect fit.
The frame, available in white and a blue so dark it’s practically black, isn’t the only part of the TV designed by the French brothers. The motion-controlled remote, cable-management system, and UI are all vastly different from anything else made by Samsung. (The latter is still built atop Tizen, though.)
The set’s cable-management system, for instance, is revealed when you pop off the TV’s magnetically attached, fabric-coated back panel. A groove in the back of the set runs the power and HDMI cables parallel to the TV’s slender legs, and a leg attachment lets you bundle them together. With a bit of cable-finessing and the right outlet layout, the TV almost looks like a wireless panel.
There’s a unique screensaver feature, dubbed Curtain Mode. It obscures what’s behind it with a sheer overlay, mimicking translucent drapes. You can tweak the color and opacity.
Unlike the international Serif TV lineup released last year in Europe and South Korea, the new US offering consists of one size and price: A 40-incher for $1,500. And while the specs aren’t entirely in line with Samsung’s top-end SUHD series, they’re still pretty good. This is a 4K TV with Samsung’s high-end HDR capabilities, even if 40 inches won’t do all those pixels justice. But even if the picture doesn’t look better, the console certainly does.