“I AM CEDIA®” is about connecting with our members, finding out how they got into the home technology profession, uncovering their personal backstories, and learning about their dreams, desires, and tastes.
Often we give you the “big-picture” CEDIA story to audiences within the industry and beyond, stressing the wider needs and aspirations of our 3,700-plus members. For these profiles, though, we decided to sit down and really get to know a few businesses and the people behind them in a more personal setting.
Here’s a bit of background — in his own words — from Giles Sutton of James + Giles
, London. ON HIS COMPANY PHILOSOPHY
When I was first looking at starting James + Giles, I looked at other companies in the industry, and the way that the technology was presented was so macho. It was all up-front, lots of big speakers and screens. I thought, actually, there's a place in this industry for a company where technology is not in the forefront, that it blends in to an interior or a particular aesthetic.
I like to think at James + Giles we have a particular style when we approach our properties. We spend a lot of time with the design team figuring out the best interface, the best keypad, the right look for the technology.
I can say that within my business, I've actually played every single role there is, from engineer to project manager to salesman.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself, actually, that I now have an organization that has nine people in it. It's something that if I turn back the clock ten years, I thought was unimaginable.
When we approach new projects, we always fundamentally want the technology to be reliable, easy to use, and amazing to look at.
ON THE REWARDS
The most rewarding thing for me has to be when I take clients through their system for the first time. Their eyes light up, they just get completely immersed in the music and the sound.
I love working with the other people on the team, the interior designers, even the landscape architects, everyone to actually develop the most incredible experience that we can for the homeowner.
ON THE FUTURE
What is incredible in the last ten years is we've gone from having maybe two touchscreens in a house to us all having touchscreens in our pocket.
For me one of the most exciting things to happen in this industry is learning technology. Take my learning thermostat: It knows when I'm out of the country, whether I'm just down the road, or whether I've just popped out to walk my dog.
CEDIA has really helped my business grow. When I first set up the business I was very passionate about technology but didn't necessarily know how to run the business. Through meeting other business owners at various different stages of their development, they gave me the tools to succeed.
CEDIA is all about its community. It's like-minded individuals learning from each other, whether you're a one-man operation or a ten-man operation — or even ten-lady operation.
ON HIS BACKGROUND
From a young age I was always the one that could program the VCR. I was always the one that could understand technology.
When I was little, I really wanted to be a pilot, because I love to travel and I love the idea of traveling the world, seeing all these different places.
I used to write music, so I used to have a whole stack of synths. I used to perform at school and then I moved into music production.
I went to school in Liverpool, and that's where I got my degree in sound technology. That was at the Liverpoint Studio of Performing Arts, which is Paul McCartney's old school. McCartney would come up; he gave me my degree certificate. He was drinking in the bar afterwards, so after I graduated I had a beer with him.
ON HIS LIFE OUTSIDE THE JOB
I listen to electronic music, jazz, rock, classical. For me, it's not just the music that I'm listening to, it's the way that it's produced, because I'm a huge music fan.
My favorite meal would have to be a roast meal in a countryside pub with a roaring fire in the background in the winter.
When I'm not at work, I love walking the dog. I also love football — I'm a huge Chelsea fan.
I have a pet dog called Lola, she's a puggle. She's a cross between a pug and a beagle, if you don't know what a puggle is, and she's got bags of energy, and she comes into the office every day with me. She keeps everyone company. ON HIS BUSINESS DECISIONS
If you love technology, there's always a temptation to over-tech things. Actually sometimes all the clients want is music playing in the bedroom or a cinema.
The best piece of advice I've ever been given in my business is not to overpromise and under-deliver.
One of the best decisions I made was to work on my business rather than in my business. I stopped going out to projects and programming them and picking up the tools, but instead built a team to work with me.