IFA NEWS: Philips puts ladies first

Well, it was a surreal introduction to the biggest and some say best consumer electronics show, writes Joe Cox. Having been at Heathrow at 5am, in the air by 8am, and waiting for my room to be prepared at a hotel in central Berlin by midday, I’ve finally had my first taste of the sprawling AV extravaganza that is IFA in Berlin. And it was a bit weird....

Having been dropped off in a car park, I shuffle off in the direction of any number of gigantic warehouses, each set to be transported into homes for the very latest technology by first thing tomorrow when the IFA officially opens.

Finally reaching the elusive Hall 22a off the Messe Berlin complex, I see my first glimpse of a familiar logo – Philips. My first press conference is to be the Dutch company’s official launch of its Aurea range of TVs and, as tends to be the norm for Philips, the launch is anything but predictable. Once the hall is full and it’s officially standing room only, the lights are dimmed… and out come the dancing girls.

Much suggestive dancing follows, complete with ‘this way Sir’ hand gestures and hypnotic stares before…whoosh - the girls are enveloped in see-thru red fabric that flies up from the floor, and the lights turn to shine on a bank of Philips flat screen TVs above and behind them. Now that’s what we call an entrance.

While at first glance this may sound like typical titillation for a consumer public perceived as male-dominated, as the launch continued, it became clear that it was in fact the fairer sex that Philips is now looking to openly court.

‘Seduction By Light’ was the oft-repeated mantra around the Aurea range, and it’s the female of the species that Philips has in sight. Rudy Provoost, CEO Philips Consumer Electronics, was happy to point out Philips’ move ‘away from the masculine to the feminine design aesthetic’, backed-up by its collaboration with acclaimed designer Stefano Marzano.

Furthermore, Philips has also joined forces with Swarovski to ‘fuse fashion and technology’ in the form of a range of stylish headphones and USB sticks called Active Crystals.

This announcement leads to the breakout of a mini fashion show on the exhibition stage, as more lithe young ladies appear to model these items of gadget jewellery.

But there’s time for more weirdness, as we’re soon entranced by a ‘world premiere’ viewing of a specially commissioned film from director Wong Kar Wai. An intriguing if somewhat bizarre short film, ‘There is only one sun’ ends with the blind heroine of the story writhing on the floor while kissing the panel of a brand new Aurea flatscreen. Clearly she’s a fan…

We’ll be getting the first hands-on look at the full range of new Philips products – if not quite as hands-on as the film above - on Friday, including the admittedly gorgeous-looking Aurea range, so check back to the site for the full lowdown.

For now, it’s back out to the show in search of more surreal experiences and of course to find out all the latest news from all the biggest names… We will keep you posted.