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Things Designers Want to Know, but Are Afraid to Ask (Part Two)

Dan McGowan | Jun 05, 2020
If you’re a designer, architect, or builder, you’re confident and skilled with your craft. Sometimes, however, customers might bring up something — especially about home technology integration — that’s just beyond your scope. THAT’S OKAY.

To shine a light on some of those questions and topics, we’ve tapped into the expertise of two first-rate CEDIA integrators for a series we’re calling Things Designers Want to Know, but Are Afraid to Ask.
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Their answers have been adapted from appearances at a major design-build gathering that also featured Dean Keyworth, founder of Armstrong Keyworth, a company providing services ranging from informal design consultancy to full project coordination including building work, planning, lighting, decoration and furnishing and Susie Rumbold, managing director of Tessuto Interiors, a multi-disciplinary interior design practice with international, private, and commercial clients.

Designers are working from tight budgets and then integrators enter the picture adding their technological touches — and costs. How can we work together and how much should we allocate to tech?

James Ratcliffe is managing director of UK-based Homeplay, a home technology integration business focusing on home cinema and media rooms, lighting, audio, and wi-fi connectivity. He said:

“It's a tough question but it is a discussion that needs to happen early on, otherwise you could be wasting each other’s time. We know because we do this every day. We can look at a floorplan of the house and give a very quick figure for doing all the things that we would normally do — lighting, music, TVs, heating and cooling control, CCTV, blinds.”

Pip Evans is director of UK-based NV Integration, a bespoke designer and installer of home automation and cinema systems for customers in the luxury residential category. He said:

“It's so client specific. But the most critical thing is to get the wiring infrastructure in early and cable for everything that you think you might want now and in the future.”

How do you hide or at least shrink the space for racks and other gear that runs all the smart home tech behind the scenes?

Ratcliffe:

“There are a couple of options. First of all, the lighting panels often take up a lot of room. But now, lighting technology is moving away from the dimming panel and up into the ceiling so that the control gear is next to the light. This means that you just need a very small controller that can be mounted in a cupboard, and then, the dimming is done in the fitting itself.

Secondly, by using systems such as Sky Q (a subscription-based television and entertainment service and hardware found throughout much of Europe), we are not necessarily putting everything in a large centralised rack. Instead, it’s going into the individual rooms and there are still ways of us hiding it and making it look good.”

Our next entry in the series will cover project-specific subjects: home cinema, security, and window treatments.