Salamander Designs’ Chameleon Cabinets Hide Leon Speakers – and a Refrigerator
Furniture manufacturer Salamander Designs has been around for over 20 years. I’m not sure that I’m happy to say this or not, but I’ve been around the industry long enough to remember Salamander Designs from darn near the beginning. In the early days, Salamander’s design concept was a modular, “build it yourself” style of AV cabinetry that I found to be exceptional for a couple of reasons. First, the modular nature of the furniture meant that you could not only design a cabinet using Salamander’s various rails, shelves, doors, and etc., but you could change or expand the original cabinet whenever you wanted to by adding rails, shelves, doors, and etc. Second, the fit and finish of Salamander’s parts and pieces was awesome. It was way beyond the typical “knock-down” (KD) or “ready-to-assemble” (RTA) particleboard crud other companies were selling. I guess I’d also have to add a third reason, as well. Salamander’s finished cabinets looked very cool; although, the style was a bit techie, so it didn’t always appeal to everyone.
Had you been asleep for most of the past 20 years and woke up to find yourself walking through Salamander’s booth at CEDIA, you’d be struck by the fact that, in addition to the traditional BYO (Build Your Own) cabinetry selections (what Salamander calls its “Synergy System”), over the years the company has gotten into a broad assortment of wall-mounted and credenza-style cabinetry, as well as “entertainment seating” (recliners and couches), ottomans and tables (with hidden seating or storage), and TV mounts (including mounts that integrate into Salamander’s cabinets, motorized mounts, and projector mounts).
As I’ve watched Salamander Designs grow the company’s product categories and selections, I’ve always wondered when they’d make the break with the past and start cutting corners and cheapening the products in order to hit more mass-market price points. Again, walking through the booth, it’s a comforting sight to see that, as far as I can tell, this hasn’t happened. Salamander’s cabinets are still well designed, sturdily built, and offer some interesting features you don’t find in cabinets from traditional companies that don’t specialize in AV furniture.
For example, Salamander has partnered with Leon Speakers – another specialty company that builds speakers to order – to engineer center channel speakers and soundbars specifically for Salamander’s Synergy and Chameleon AV cabinets. In addition to being sized to fit perfectly into the cabinets, the speakers also include special mounting brackets that allow for tilting the speaker or soundbar up or down to optimize the sound output. You can kind of think of the whole thing as the ultimate home-theater-in-a-box, except that the box is actually a super-nice piece of furniture. The pricing for the Leon Speaker/bracket combo starts at $999. Amazingly, Salamander says that this integrated speaker option is compatible with all Synergy and Chameleon cabinets made since 1998, so current owners of those cabinets can upgrade at any time. (No word on the interesting coincidence that “Leon” was already in the Chameleon name before Leon put the speakers in the cabinets…)
In addition to hiding speakers inside, Salamander showed off some new cabinet outsides. The Chameleon line now includes new styles and finishes that range from what the company calls “heavily textured wood” to high-gloss contemporary white. Some of the “heavily textured wood” finishes have deeply embossed, horizontal grains, which Salamander says are “akin to wheat stalks” or “tall grasses” running horizontally across the front doors of the cabinets. If you’re into the “cosmopolitan vibe of trendsetting Miami”, the company claims that you’ll love the high-gloss finish of the Miami cabinets. I’m not really sure what the “cosmopolitan vibe of trendsetting Miami” is or even means, but I do like the soft, almost glowing look to the brown tops and white sides of the Miami cabinets. Another thing I really liked about the Miami cabinets was the small refrigerator that fit almost perfectly behind one of the side doors of the Miami cabinet on display at the booth. (Maybe that’s the cosmopolitan vibe…or the trendsetting Miami…)
Salamander also had a sample of a new line of theater seats that are supposed to be less customizable but also less expensive than the current lineup. Pricing and availability weren’t yet determined.
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