TOWSON, Md. — Knock on wood. Or laminate. When you are buying broadcast furniture, where function is as important as form, the beauty may be only skin deep.
Knowing what to expect is why my company and others advised WTMD(FM) in Towson, Md., part of Towson University, to use Studio Technology of Kennett Square, Pa., for their recent project for six studios.
Founded in 1991 by company President Vince Fiola, Studio Technology brings 10,000 square feet of manufacturing facilities and eight staff to the job of building custom technical furniture and accessories (such as LCD mounts) for all areas of broadcast facilities, not just the studios.
After 30+ years of systems integration, I have learned a few things about quality studio furnishings. When I get called into a project, among the first questions I ask, “Who is building the furniture?”
A proper choice of furniture will make a difference to a project in the areas of scope, cost and schedule. As an example, does any point inside the furniture exceed arm’s reach? If so, you may not be getting your wiring in there efficiently.
I first worked with Studio Technology soon after it formed and have worked with them many times since. WTMD presented some challenges because the wiring between studios was done by a cabling vendor to Towson University IT specifications and we had a short schedule. S-T worked with us to prep for pre-terminated cables without requiring major surgery on-site.
We encountered the “architect’s surprise” wherein furniture was expected to be supported against fabric-covered walls. Studio Technology provided detailed drawings to show the general contractor where blocking was needed. Studio Technology was responsive and resourceful throughout the project, even driving down some added legs the same day they were requested.
If not every project requires custom furniture, almost every piece requires some customization. Studio Technology can provide cookie cutter product; however Vince much prefers, “Let me come down there,” taking his own photos and measurements, and working directly with the project team (yes, even the architect!) — exchanging as much as information as possible. In the words of Fiola, “We try to listen to what the customer is trying to accomplish … then do everything we can to provide it.”
An example — the typical access door panels used on Studio Technology furniture are free of protruding hardware. A simple bar supports the door and four roller catches secure the door. To open, you grasp the top edge and pull. This reduces unplanned opening, prevents clothing and headphone cords from being caught and leaves a smooth surface should the door come in contact with fabric covered surfaces. Hinged doors in tabletop racks are outfitted similarly, using an alternate-action catch.
Other aspects typical of the product are the “punchblock base” that provides ample mounting space, and provides access from the outside whenever possible. Openings, big enough to fit in, are provided throughout or as requested.
Because forced air brings problems of cost, noise, electrical usage and maintenance, simple convection cooling using vented access panels is the standard ventilation method. This is handy when you want to provide temporary access without leaving it all open.
Studio Technology uses medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to manufacture countertops, which provides a strong and stable surface. Base cabinetry is manufactured using 3/4-inch-thick melamine-clad panels (MCP) so that screws attach securely without going through the other side. Tops are sectionalized and seams finished on-site when necessary, such as for Corian.
It would not be a stretch to say that Vince’s firm is one of the biggest mom-and-pop operations in the studio furnishings business, with repeat business from many of the largest broadcast firms. You see their products frequently around the Washington/Baltimore area, at any rate. Studio Technology provides design, construction and installation nationwide. From my experience, they can build and ship to you for assembly. They can provide crews to handle assembly and they will help a customer reuse furniture in instances such as a move or changing from a cut-out drop-in analog console to a top-mounted digital console.
For information, contact Vince Fiola at Studio Technology in Pennsylvania at (610) 925-2785 or visit www.studiotechnology.com.