Things Designers Want to Know, but Are Afraid to Ask (Part Three)

by Dan McGowan | Jun 05, 2020
If you’re a designer, architect, or builder, you’re confident and skilled with your craft. Sometimes, however, customers might bring up something — especially about home technology integration — that’s just beyond your scope. THAT’S OKAY.

To shine a light on some of those questions and topics, we’ve tapped into the expertise of two first-rate CEDIA integrators for a series we’re calling Things Designers Want to Know, but Are Afraid to Ask.

Their answers have been adapted from appearances at a major design-build gathering that also featured Dean Keyworth, founder of Armstrong Keyworth, a company providing services ranging from informal design consultancy to full project coordination including building work, planning, lighting, decoration and furnishing and Susie Rumbold, managing director of Tessuto Interiors, a multi-disciplinary interior design practice with international, private, and commercial clients.

For a home cinema project, what can you do with a room with white walls and a wooden floor?

Pip Evans is director of UK-based NV Integration, a bespoke designer and installer of home automation and cinema systems for customers in the luxury residential category. He said:
Sound dampening is key for home cinemas with smooth surfaces like wooden floors. ("House Dainfern Home Cinema," by BNC in South Africa -- 2019 CEDIA Award Finalist, EMEA Region, Home Cinema Level I)
“From an audio point of view, hard surfaces are really bad in a cinema room because they are reflective. We want lots of very soft surfaces and specialist panels in different areas of the room, which are scientifically placed to make sure that the sound doesn't arrive at different times. You want to hear the action that's happening in time with the action on the screen. There's lots of fabric walling systems where you can create a room within a room within that room within a room. The fabric wall is acoustically transparent, and you can have the specialist panels hidden behind the fabric wall. Normally, these fabrics would be picked with the interior designer.”

James Ratcliffe is managing director of UK-based Homeplay, a home technology integration business focusing on home cinema and media rooms, lighting, audio, and wi-fi connectivity. He said:

“In a great cinema room, you want to be absorbed by what's on the screen. In a white room, the light from the projector is going to bounce off the screen into the room, making you super aware that you're in a room. It then bounces back onto the screen and takes away the contrast in the image. Installing a projector in a really dark room can look better than a conventional TV.”

Can kids cause problems on the home network by logging in to unsecured networks outside the home, then logging in at home?


“The main problem is that people set terrible is passwords. I would suggest that you use a password manager such as Dashlane. The problem with using the same password or a variant of a password on every device is that if an online shopping site that you used four years ago is compromised, that person can try your email and that password and variants of it on every site and probably get into a fair few of them. So, having unique passwords for every single site is the only way to do it.”

Who is in charge of window treatments? The designer or the integrator?


“It's a case of working together. Typically, designers are concerned about how things look, and quite often, the way that the fabric performs in a roller blind, or how the colour of the fabric will stop glare coming into the room, is overlooked. There are specialist fabrics that integrators are aware of that will look good on the inside but will have a different coating on the outside to stop heat coming into the room to prevent heat gain. There are also ways to make blinds disappear by integrating them into the fabric of the building. There are some plaster-in profiles that we can get to hide roller blinds completely so that they are invisible.”

Our next entry in the series will cover two keys to your rapport with customers: trust and health.

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