Get Smart About Interior Design

14 January 2022

Steve Harper, Client Services Director, Philharmonic, explains the four main reasons interior designers should be partnering with a smart home specialist to meet the growing demand for high-quality automation and AV systems.  

Lighting the way in automation

In the past, the cost of automated lighting and shading control was prohibitive for all but the most luxurious properties, but for the ones that did utilise it, the results were breath-taking. The ability to manage both natural and unnatural light to produce lighting scenes that fit every mood or occasion is something that nobody wishes to be without once experiencing for the first time. So, what’s changed? Well, Moore’s Law of technology has been consistent and is now delivering automated lighting and shading to us at a lower entry cost than ever. Brands such as Lutron, Control4, Crestron and Rako are all bringing more cost-effective solutions to market, pushing smart lighting to be one of the main lead generators in the smart home market. Bringing smart lighting and shading into your consultation process is one thing, but integrating into other home systems and ensuring your design manifests in the way you wish it to is a skill in itself.

Get connected to the new trends 

We may as well face facts, most of us are now slaves to being connected. Whether it is the power for our mobile devices or Wi-Fi for our internet browsing, we are more tethered than ever to the things that allow us to be anywhere at any time. When buying a new car, instead of the convenience features being a CD changer and a cigarette lighter, we are now faced with choices like a wireless charging station and Apple CarPlay. Ultimately, we all want convenience at home too, but the definition of what is important has changed and is continuing to evolve. Convenience in the home now could be defined in many ways, but from a technology perspective, it could be as simple as getting connected and staying connected. While it may not be an instinct of the interior designer to consider Wi-Fi connectivity in the design process of a room, this consideration is built into every project we integrators work on – ensuring that both wired and wireless connectivity is robust and reliable in every room of the home. Its such an integral part of most people’s lives now, not just for home control, entertainment, but for work, that its absence if felt most keenly.  

Either hidden or attractive

One of the biggest misconceptions about smart homes and integration is that it is often, ugly and on show. Big round metal grilles on ceiling speakers and plastic, ‘functional’ light switches that do not fit with the décor. Nothing could be further from the truth in today’s luxury residences. Speaker manufacturers now have entire ranges of speakers designed to deliver performance while staying totally incognito. Methods are different; some opt for micro-perforated, colour matchable grilles while some have developed speakers that can be plastered into the wall and play sound through the plaster. As far as lighting is concerned, companies offering design-led, smart home compatible light switches are a dime a dozen and the results are stunning. If you think that there is no place for technology in a space, then make sure you consult with an integration partner as there is a product for almost every situation to help your client have the best of both worlds.

The tables are turning

The hardest thing about being a smart home integrator is that you are often late to the party when designing or building a home. Since COVID-19 however, the tide on this seems to be turning in terms of client’s priorities. More and more people are appreciating and prioritising their home entertainment capabilities in order to suit a more home-based existence. Interior designers should also expect more and more to find electrical and AV integrators brought in on projects at the same time and treated almost as one entity. Make sure you can recommend those services when a potential client comes calling, as this may be the difference between them choosing you and a competitor.

In harmony with you.
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