It was over budget. So we worked with Baga to see what could be done to bring the price down. The answer was this: the stem is made up of a cluster of individual metal rods. They replaced these with a series of strips that were corrugated, so that each strip looked like three of the rods. Therefore three times fewer strips than rods could be used. The light looked similar but cost less. There was a compromise but, by working with the maker:
1. the design was not stolen and exploited by another firm, and
2. the standard of the original was maintained. The resulting light had the right quality about it, and will have lasted throughout its life in the hotel, without looking pants as it prematurely aged.
That is value engineering -- taking an existing design and modifying it with the maker, in agreed ways, to bring the price down.
Though, note that the capacity to value-engineer the price downwards, whilst not compromising the standard of the design or construction, is obviously not infinite (and varies design to design).
Another example was very recent. A '50s style task light, in table and floor versions, has been specified for a hotel in London, but it is too expensive. It was the look, the style, that the designers liked. But it had functionality that, when we looked into how we could reduce the price, they agreed that they did not need. The original articulated in various places, including the whole structure of the floor light being able to be tilted at different angles. By removing most of these complicated joints, we reduced the cost, cleaned up the design, and the foot of the floor light could be smaller, because it no longer had to allow for the maximum possible angle of the stem.
Again, there has to be a budget. The maker can't value-engineer down to a price if he does not know what that price is.
Note: this series of posts builds up into a single Briefing, a PDF of which is downloadable here: A Briefing on Value for Money when Purchasing for Hotels.