Rod White, Global Head of Design at Philips TV, gives an insight to the design process and explains why design is so key in today’s TV market

TV design is a hot topic at IFA with the latest OLED models on show. We spoke to Rod White, Global Head of Design at Philips TV and started by asking him about the most important trends in TV design.


There are two main trend types influencing TV currently, technology and aesthetics. Firstly, from a technological viewpoint, the TV category is now focused on larger OLED screen sizes, which results in an extremely slim form factor with effectively no bezel. The consequence is less space to fully integrate quality sound.

Consumers now expect their TV to play a part in their personal smart home, so features such as voice control, accessing smart lighting or navigating archived content via apps or smart TV become a necessity.

With the emergence of more smart devices in the living room there are dual aesthetic trends towards more tactile materials on the one hand, and also a desire for magical, precious elements.

Can you tell us about the design of the new sets that will be shown at IFA?

This is a big year for Philips at IFA. Having recently announced a partnership with Bowers & Wilkins to provide the best possible sound for our TVs, we are showing our OLED903, which has Bowers & Wilkins speakers both below the screen and in the rear sound unit.

This is the first product coming to market from the partnership and has already won the EISA award for Best Home Theatre TV, and an iF Design Award. We are also showing the new LED9104 which is the result of our collaboration with Georg Jensen that began last year.

What about Philips’ Red Dot Design and iF Design wins?

In 2018 for the TV category we picked up a Red Dot award for our 5863 small screen with integrated sound base. It has a smart TV functionality, comes in 24-inch and 32-inch and is ready to play music via Wi-Fi from your portable device.

Our new OLED 903, which won an iF design award, features a full width Kvadrat fabric speaker detail below the screen. Together with the rear speaker volume, the device delivers real Bowers & Wilkins sound that combines with our latest P5 Picture quality and the refined use of polished metal to create an incredible TV experience.

What are the main challenges when it comes to TV design?

The reality, for now at least, is that TVs are thin black rectangles. By now the average screen size is much larger and the TV bezel has disappeared.

A challenge we face is to use materials and finishing in a way that allows the TV to stand out in the store in a meaningful way, while still being able to fit effortlessly into modern homes. The other main challenge is to keep the design process flexible enough to be able to integrate the emerging inputs such as voice control innovation or enhancing the audio performance through refining our bespoke speaker fabric in order to meet the Bowers & Wilkins level of performance.

Which new innovations are your team currently working on?

Our design team in Amsterdam cover Philips TV, Monitors and since recently Philips Audio brand. The emergence of AI functionality across those categories naturally has our attention, understanding how best to apply the technology within the product experience. Also, now we can fully integrate Philips Audio into our strategy as a part of the TV story we are exploring exactly how that will take shape.

How important is IFA for Philips?

I have been coming to Berlin for IFA for many years and it’s an exciting date in the calendar. Not only is it a chance to see the latest consumer electronic products up close, it also is an opportunity to see innovation in other areas such as home appliances. IFA also allows us as designers to network within the design and business communities.

Photo: Rod White – Global Head of Design, Philips TV