Charles G. Stone, Design Principal
Fisher Marantz Stone
My company is an independent lighting design consultancy. We have practiced our craft for 33 years on more than 3,000 unique lighting projects. We have accumulated a body of experience that-when combined with our study of manufacturers' products and of architects' drawings and models-enables us to inhabit the mind of the architect and see each building in light. As independent consultants, we hold our client's interests above all others. We are beholden to no others-neither manufacturers, nor distributors, nor reps. We do not sell lighting fixtures. We are most passionate about the unique vision of each project we share with each client. We strive for excellence in achieving this vision. Speaking for my self, my firm, and the professional members of the International Association of Lighting Designers, I firmly believe that our independent advocacy has value. If you want an independent opinion about how to solve a lighting problem, you'll have to hire an independent lighting designer.
Jill Cody, Lighting Designer
Hammel, Green and Abrahamson
An independent lighting consultant is the best source for up-to-date and, most importantly, unbiased information. Other sources are inherently biased based on their financial arrangements, which are not always disclosed to the client. I have no doubt that these people have much experience in the lighting field, but they are, at least partially, beholden to the interests of someone other than the owner. Because independent consultants are ultimately paid by the owner, they must put the needs of that owner first. Since design ability and independence are the consultant's selling points, they must provide the best design, regardless of product, to be successful. There is always a less-expensive first-cost option. And other factors come into play-operating costs, employee satisfaction and customer response. These are rarely achieved by the least expensive first-cost system, and those are just the factors that are analyzed by the independent consultant.
Daniel E. Edenbaum, President
Now more then ever this policy should exist. Since I started my career 15 years ago, the lighting industry has been expanding at an alarming rate. The architectural field needs people dedicated to the understanding of lighting products and design. I wouldn't expect an architect, engineer or interior designer to keep up with the expansion of the lighting industry, and practice their profession, too. Staying on top of new technology and best practices is an undertaking in and of itself. Lighting designers also have to keep up with all of the codes and standards. My grandfather once said to me, 'Know your profession.'
Sean O'Connor, Principal
Sean O'Connor Associates
We are an independent lighting design consultancy, and as such, it is easy to see the allure in selling equipment. We could sell a few of our projects and the mark-up might add significantly to the bottom line. But even if there were an accepted standard for selling, we would need to add a whole new business within our existing business model. The challenge for the industry is establishing the following: When is it not just 'selling the design,' but 'designing to sell'? If the economic climate dictates such conditions and enough designers feel it is feasible to sell equipment, I can imagine a proposal that might be accepted by the IALD. However, the inherent problem is that not everyone would choose to sell equipment, creating an unequal playing field. Some clients would learn to expect that type of service from their lighting design firm, potentially excluding the independent firms from those projects.
Wayne Hinson, President
Hinson Design Group
I am a member of IESNA, have my LC and own an independent lighting design firm. Due to the IALD's rule prohibiting the sale or installation of lighting equipment, I cannot become a member of this association. A good business provides services requested by the client, and one of the most frequently requested services is a turnkey solution. Some of my most problematic projects were those in which I acted according to the IALD's rules. These were the projects where inferior products were substituted (by the contractor), installation was done incorrectly (by installers inexperienced with the products), or the overall lighting concept was lost due to creative license taken by the general contractor. These examples are every lighting designer's worst nightmares and most common problems. The easiest way to minimize substitutions is to supply the product, a violation of IALD rules. Installation of many of the products I specify is extremely difficult if the trades are not experienced in that specific product. This leads to improper installation, poor operation, and safety issues. When I specify, supply, and install products with trades that are experienced, these problems are mitigated. My customer has a full understanding of the cost in advance and a single resource to turn to if the final project is not to their satisfaction. A basic point of the IALD rule is to discourage allegiance between vendors and designers. How can designers assure quality results if they cannot specify the product (with no substitutions), define the installation plan (with no alterations), and guarantee a proper installation? I am proud of my projects because I can control them; this is in the best interest of the client-which should be the credo of any lighting designer. This rule should be reviewed in the context of today's successful business models and changed to allow representation of lighting designers that offer a full-service solution to the client.