As a technology integrator, we are accustomed to creating projects on paper or digital mediums before a single wire is ever installed. If we stopped here, the technology we put in peoples’ homes would still offer entertainment, ambiance, comfort, and peace of mind – but it may not fit the appeal of the home or workspace where people see and interact with it. After all, the home is a sanctuary for many and while we get to leave the house when we are done, they live with our work forever.
That’s why the most important tool in your toolbox should be collaboration.
For over twelve years, I have had the pleasure of working with architects and interior designers, blending technology with the designed environment to accomplish the unseen, all while balancing full functionality of our modern creature comforts. Numerous benefits come from a collaborative design process, and when technology is a part of this effort, the result is always better. Technology is now woven into the fabric of our lives – it practically demands primary consideration when designing a space.
The electronic subsystems of a home –lighting, heating, cooling, entertainment, and internet — are accessed daily by multiple users of the space. With these systems in place, controls, banks of lighting switches, thermostats, heating/cooling grates, televisions, wires, and more will be present in the home. Considered early in the design, when the most options are available, the design team can work through these obstacles that will inevitably surface. Products and solutions exist to hide these eyesores, all while simplifying operations, providing an easy-to-use platform for the different and varied users of the space.
As part of the collaborative design of the space, architects and interior designers can consider technology within the budget and process of the project build. Proper financing should be secured, so no financial surprises surface when they are least expected. Collaboration means all pieces and parts come together in a well-timed orchestra, to avoid project drama, delays, and frustration.
When technology is avoided during the planning process, it is almost certain that the project will derail in both budget and implementation.
It first starts with an awareness – and acceptance – that technology should be a consideration on every project. Once a designer has embraced this new way of designing, it’s time to learn about trends, solutions, and products. Continuing education opportunities exist to provide designers with knowledge about technology solutions that could benefit their design and the lives of their clients. The Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), has a CEDIA Outreach Instructor (COI) program for trainers who can provide CEU credits to architects, designers, and more. While these courses aim to educate design professionals, they are not intended to turn architects or designers into technology pros.
Instead, they provide the design trade with information to know what solutions are possible, who to call for support, and when to bring a technology designer into the process.
I have enjoyed working with designers to explore the value of technology within the design process, collaborate on projects, and provide time and energy back to the homeowners through integrated home technologies. Working through objections and design obstacles to find ‘the perfect solution’ to a particular problem is exhilarating, as is the magic that unfolds when a project is complete. All elements of the project are then seen as a combined unit – from design to implementation – all to create a joyful and exceptional client experience.