This is so basic and obvious that I'm almost embarrassed to write it down. Also, unlike the rest of this briefing, it is about us -- Cameron Peters Fine Lighting -- and what we, uniquely, can do for you.
Unfortunately, though, it does not fit in with how most interior designers like to work, so we've not been able to put it into practice until now. But it is how we are currently approaching the refurbishment of a chain of three star hotels in the UK, and we are also about to apply it to the decorative lighting package of a five star hotel in the Middle east.
So, what is "it"?
This is all it is.
At an early stage in the development of the concepts, the designer responsible for FF&E spends a day with us, going through every possible sensible source for the decorative lighting. It is an enjoyable -- even exciting -- day, a stress-free hour from Paddington, in a listed building in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with a good pub across the field, past the lake. And there is Holly, the cutest Company Dog....
The designer goes away with the catalogue and price lists for the shortlist of makers who are appropriate to the project. She knows that she can specify from them with confidence. She has all the detailed info she needs, so she won't be held up trying to find out colours, finishes, sizes, lamps, prices, lead times....
The range of sources that she has chosen from is far wider than would otherwise be available to her, partly because we know more about more lighting makers than anybody else does, and partly because suppliers can get stereotyped. Even suppliers that she thinks she knows well --with whom she may have worked before -- may be able to exceed her expectations of what they can do, or of the price points that they can meet. Lighting makers can get stereotyped as easily as actors can.
As an example, Dernier & Hamlyn is well known and highly respected as a source of bespoke lighting for luxury projects. But would you have thought of turning to them to create the magnificent art deco column in the foyer of 45 Park Lane, shown at the top of this section? By taking a really deep interest in lighting makers, we learn things about them that would not otherwise be found out.
It is not that all the makers will be perfect: it is more than we can warn the designer about the problems that might occur with each one, so that they can be factored in.
The other result of the day is that we understand the approach that she wants to adopt, the look she is going for, and any other issues specific to the project. This understanding means that we can make relevant suggestions whenever she needs something outside the range of catalogues from which she is working.
We are also deliberately addressing value for money at this early stage, so that it is built in to all the specifying decisions. As an obvious illustration, we select suppliers that offer good value for money and, by maximizing the number of items from each supplier, we can increase the likelihood of quantity discounts.
Then, by explaining to the selected manufacturers what is happening, we will get much more cooperation from them. This can be very practical: for example, they may be prepared to convert lights into emergency lights, which they would not do if it was just an isolated request.
But I'm making "it" sound more complicated than it is! All I'm really saying is: choose suitable suppliers and order standard items from their catalogues. The saving in time and stress will be dramatic, and most of the problems that I've identified in this series of posts will be easily avoided!
Oh, and it will also be more enjoyable for all concerned. Not only will stressful situations be avoided, but since light makers are usually small family companies located in nice places (e.g. Barcelona, Copenhagen, Venice, Florence, Paris, the Loire Valley, Vienna, Munich), they will get personally involved in the project. It'll be more efficient -- aiding communication and speeding things up -- to visit their workshops (in those nice places) and understand what they can do....
Specifying lighting can be -- should be -- great fun!
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.