Crestron’s Design Showroom in New York City is entering its eighth year as a hub for learning about what is possible when technology meets aesthetics. The 3,500-square-foot facility, in the multi-floor Decoration & Design Building (DDB) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is nestled among some 130 showrooms dedicated to the needs of residential and business interior designers. As such, it is in the perfect spot to be noticed by those professionals – and once noticed, in a perfect position to bring them up to speed on control platforms and systems well familiar to technology integrators.
Bryan Celli, near a display showcasing some of Crestron’s many shading options
“Twenty-five percent of my traffic is walk-ins in this building. The doors are always open Monday through Friday,” explains Bryan Celli, senior design showroom manager, who recently hosted us for a tour.
Browsers from the design community oftentimes will, while visiting the showrooms of Crestron’s business neighbors on the fourth floor (which include Ralph Lauren), meander through the door without a clue as to who Crestron is and what it does. And about a third of them, said Celli, are influencers in that community – a perfect audience for the Crestron story.
He tells of an interior designer who was drawn into the showroom by the front-area rug. After he engaged her, “within about 10 minutes, she was talking about how it would be nice to have music throughout her home, and be able to simplify leaving the house” without having to go through multiple processes to power it down – and was asking for information about custom integrator contacts who could meet her at her home. A technology evangelist, at that moment, was created.
At other times, browsers who enter the showroom “might lead off with a query along the lines of, ‘Do you do furniture, or rugs?’ That kind of question is our best opening,” says Celli. Technology is what Crestron does, of course, but that fact is not readily in evidence upon entering. However, there is much immediately apparent that designers are able to relate to – like the wide collection of shading and fabric options. “Showing those communicates the part of the Crestron message that is very much in line with how a designer thinks. The idea is that from that point, designers can learn about all the other options.”
Those options include the breadth of Crestron’s line card, which extends well beyond shading solutions to entertainment, lighting, temperature and security control.
And what’s more, says Celli, “we also show that solutions can be scaled.”
An active demo of the automated shading system
Each month, Celli presents to groups of architects and build-project developers about connected-home’s possibilities. “I pry their experiences from them, and we get everything out on the table,” he says. And by the end of the sessions, most have had their preconceptions about how technology can fit into an interior design scheme debunked.
Celli anecdotally frames the technology’s benefits as a time-saver for their design clients. He explains by using very basic examples. “When it takes going up and down the stairs eight or 10 times a day to turn lights on and off, and you can show how that can be done by pressing a single button,” that makes the point, he says. “It’s about simplifying the owners’ process when they’re leaving the home, entering their home, or when they’re entertaining in it.
A counter showcasing Crestron touch screen options
“The A/V industry approached things the wrong way for years,” Celli says. “We used to design equipment racks before even learning about the customer. Now, we’ve learned to qualify them. Designers in their own businesses know very well that if you only ask a client the size of his home, you can’t meet them the next week with an entire design ready. That is a definite ‘no.’ There’s a discovery process. In the same way, when you’re designing technology, through the discovery process, the client designs the system for you. Interior designers and architects qualify types of rooms by color palettes. They design spaces people live in; we design spaces people live with.”
The crowning benefit of the Crestron Design Showroom is how it softens technology and makes it palatable to designers. “We aim to be complementary to their design goals, not confrontational – collaborative, not conflicting,” says Celli.
“They see that this is how it would work in a physically created space, and they can say, ‘Oh, now I get it. It’s not just tech talk.’”