Samsung’s Classy New TV Moonlights as a Work of Art

Look around your home and count the screens: The television on your wall. The tablet on your coffee table. The computer monitor on your desk. Switched on, they burst with color and motion. Turned off, they’re merely black. Industrial designer Yves Behar considers that wasted potential.

“The fact that these shiny, techy objects are just there, not doing anything, is an obstacle to the technology being a discreet part of your home,” he says Behar. His solution? Another screen, of course. One that moonlights as a work of art.

Behar and his team at FuseProject spent two years working with Samsung to create The Frame, a clever mashup of a television and digital art display. One click on the remote toggles between the TV and “art mode,” a high-res display for digital paintings, drawings, and photographs. You can import your own images, order them from Samsung at $20 a pop, or subscribe to unlimited art for $4.99 a month.

The Frame mounts flush against the wall, like a painting in a gallery. That clever design trick, coupled with the wood or metal bezel and translucent cable linking it to the Samsung One Connect, disguise the fact the Frame also streams all your favorite shows.

Behar designed the The Frame as a “lifestyle TV,” which is to say aesthetics come first, specs second. The 55-inch 4K screen is nothing to scoff at, but hardly worth $2,000. No, you’re paying for a TV that disappears. “The idea for me was how do we integrate technology into people’s lives that’s non-disruptive, so that it falls into the background?” Behar says.

Samsung

Professional framers helped inform things like the 16×9 aspect ratio and the colors and textures of the digital mattes, which use a slight shadow at the edge to create the illusion of depth. In “art mode,” light and motion sensors dim or brighten the screen and shift colors from cooler to warmer, depending on the sunlight in the room. The feature gives the art a gallery-worthy display that looks like, well, art, and not a digital device. “Art doesn’t glow in the room when the lights are off,” says Jake Levine, co-founder of Electric Objects, one of the first digital art frames on the market. “That’s something that’s worthy of emulation.”

Despite his focus on getting all the artistic details right, Behar says he doesn’t ponder whether The Frame is art, or a television. It’s simply a display, one that looks just as beautiful hanging on the wall as it does streaming Netflix.