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

Dan McGowan | Jun 15, 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.

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.

Why would you recommend a brand, product, or system over another?

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:
Image of the award-winning Homeplay Experience Centre in the UK.
"The important thing with this is that there must be trust. You've got to trust that the integrator recommending a system is doing it for the right reasons and don't try push them into using another brand they don't use. These systems are complex, and I personally think that you can’t be particularly good at all of them. So, if you're asking your integrator to go with a brand that he's not comfortable with, you could be causing a lot of headaches for everyone involved."

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:
Image of some of NV Integration's award-winning work.
“I wholeheartedly agree that you should not steer an integrator against a system that they're not familiar with. It will generally end badly for everyone. There's a really strong argument for putting all your eggs in one basket when you trust someone. The worst thing that can happen in a project is finger-pointing at the end of it.”

Do technologically-integrated homes include any health risks?

Evans:

“For every white paper that says this is bad, there’s one that says it’s rubbish, so it's very hard to talk about it scientifically. If it's important to the customer, we look at ways to ease their mind. For example, if there is a keypad by the bedside, we can programme it to disable the antenna on the Wi-Fi boosters when the goodnight button on the keypad, meaning that when the client is asleep, the Wi-Fi isn't admitting anymore and they can sleep soundly. We don't actually turn the Wi-Fi booster off because when they wake up in the morning, they don't want that startup time of the booster rebooting. So, when they press good morning, we send a command to the Wi-Fi booster to turn on the radio antenna and the Wi-Fi comes back on.”