Clear communication and the relaying of information is one of the most important aspects of the design process. One area this takes on particular relevance is with product specifications. A critical piece in the overall project documentation process, the specification helps to ensure that the correct products are acquired for the job. This in turn makes sure that the designer’s intent is seen through. In the case of lighting, it can be the difference between whether or not the lighting design is realized as intended or if it will be compromised. The International Association of Lighting Designers, in conjunction with the Lighting Industry Resource Council’s Guidelines for Specification Integrity, outlines the importance of the specification process and walks designers through the components that contribute to a successful specification.
Yet despite all the effort to produce specification documents that withstand the ebbs and flows of the project cycle, one area lags behind: proper citation of manufacturer names. The significant number of mergers and acquisitions that the lighting industry has seen over the past several years hasn’t made this job any easier.
Proper citation is significant for many reasons. First, it stands as a kind of testimonial to the status of the lighting industry, a reference guide that reflects the lighting business landscape and its various changes.
Second, it shows that the lighting specifier, whether that person is a lighting designer or an architect, is aware of the organizational makeup of the industry and has some sense of the industry’s supply chain.
Third, it allows a general contractor and the related subcontractors to bid and price a project accurately. It also helps to order and produce the correct product quantities.
In addition to the importance of accuracy when specifying products for projects, proper manufacturer citation is important when projects are submitted for publication or entered into award programs. Magazines such as ours include the manufacturers speced on a project in the project information section that accompanies articles. We rely on the supplied lists as the base from which we fact-check the manufacturer information.
Given the ever-changing landscape of the lighting industry, the issue of proper citation is something that we at architectural lighting have been sorting through for the past several years. You might have noticed how company references in our pages have changed and evolved. Many independent companies have become brands within larger conglomerates. In some cases, companies no longer exist.
Some have taken different approaches to their nomenclature. From the outset, Philips has followed a system where the brand follows the parent company name: Color Kinetics became Philips Color Kinetics, Lightolier became Philips Lightolier, and so on. Acuity Brands initially took the opposite approach, preferring the individual brand to be recognized before the parent—Peerless an Acuity Brands Company, for example. In the past year, however, Acuity has switched to citing the conglomerate first and then the brand—Acuity Brands/Peerless. Another of the major conglomerates, Cooper Lighting, was following a similar referencing system—parent company followed by the brand. Since their recent acquisition by Eaton, however, they are now using the style of Eaton’s Cooper Lighting Business/Shaper.
Yes, it does take extra time to check and verify manufacturer information, but it’s a critical part of the process—both on the editorial side as well as the specification for a design. It’s in all our interest for clarity of information and purpose to make sure we are using the same “specification” vocabulary.
Elizabeth Donoff, Editor