Has Seamless Design Become Priority One?

It used to be common place to find patched-work AV systems in just about every building. AV ranked low on the priority list and the budget as far as streamlining the look of the technology with the r 4/10/2008 12:54 PM Eastern

Has Seamless Design Become Priority One?

Apr 10, 2008 4:54 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez

It used to be common place to find patched-work AV systems in just about every building. AV ranked low on the priority list and the budget as far as streamlining the look of the technology with the rest of the facility. Projector there, screen here, another projector there. A hodgepodge of technology acquired over time as needs arose, creating a visible technology eye sore and an even worse headache for users. Have times changed? If users can catch on, they are.

An aesthetically pleasing design has become one of the first features on the users’ checklist—right up there with integrated control and ease of use. If an integrator is lucky, they can work with the consultant and the architect as the building is going up, implementing an almost entirely invisible system. Today’s technology can be something of a magician, if the integrator is given the opportunity upfront.

Bill Sage, sales manager for Delicate Productions in Camarillo, Calif., says often times their company is called in when the plaster has already gone up. Communication, Sage says, between contractors, consultants, and architects is key to seamless design, which is something of a hurdle between these groups. “We’re all in our own insulated world. I don’t run across too many architects,” Sage says. “I should probably call some of the architects in my area—same thing with consultants. I wonder if they’ve ever used the building they’ve designed for a day or two. Mostly, if we just had more dialogue, then we could understand each other’s thought process and frustrations... I would love to talk to more architects and consultants.”

In Sound & Video Contractor’s April 2008 issue’s coverstory, Mission: Invisible, maintaining the aesthetics of the well-designed structure were integral in the overall design, with the several hundreds of feet of cable hidden in a raceway system being one of the biggest challenges of the installation. The installation required custom products and lots of thinking on the part of the integrators, proving that a building is no longer just a building. It’s a living thing that’s part of the way corporations are doing business. After all, a well-designed, modern work environment motivates employees, creates pride, and sends a message out to the world that that company is about the future.

Much of the conversation about having a seamless look is happening of the end users side, Sage says. The tide may be shifting ever so slightly because these clients are raising the issue and putting their foot down on the kind of look and feel of the infrastructure they want in their space.

But what does this mean for integrators? What new mold are they having reshape themselves to fit into, and what does this mean when it comes to selecting the appropriate products for the space? Does more hands-on relationships have to grow between architects and product manager as more custom solutions make their way into the market? Or will manufacturer start to rise to the need to more out-of-the-box solutions that fit today’s design environments?

One of the solutions the Delicate Productions offers to small entities are phases installations that are rolled out over time. “They don’t get as much satisfaction immediately, but we’re able to save them a little bit of money,” Sage says. As technology changes so quickly, and unlike the SGA installation, small companies may not have the budget to implement a system that can be expanded down the road.

Sage says Delicate also offers multiple options that fit with the user’s goal if the company is able to become part of that conversation from the beginning. The conversation ball, Sage says, is part of what creates good project management practices. “The best thing you can do is have everybody be ready and communicate as much as possible. But you also don’t want to step on any toes,” he says.

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