Lutron New York Experience Center Pioneers Design-First Mentality
Walking through the doors to the Decoration & Design building, clients are greeted to a showcase of businesses that occupies the building. Vignettes behind windows showcase tiling, furniture, design, and a general sense of continuity between some odd 130 showrooms. It is a building used to show prospective clients different materials, ideas, and styles from a collection of top designers.
Which makes Lutron, and their focus on aesthetically pleasing technology, a welcomed oddity.
Occupying a 4,500-square-foot space on the third floor, the Lutron Experience Center is one of eight in the world. Toronto, Florida, Pennsylvania, and London headline a few more locations, each with their own market focus. California features an array of controlled outdoor shades flanking a sprawling outdoor lanai while the Washington, D.C. showroom is equipped with a host of elegant business solutions. It provides not only a sense of how quickly their products integrate into any market aesthetic, it produces a tangible way for dealers and designers alike to educate clients on all of Lutron's offerings.
"The experience center makes us subject matter experts," said Michael Smith, Lutron's Vice President Of Sales, Residential. "When we get a chance to show a prospective client an experience center, 95% of the time something of Lutron ends up in the final build. Words just don't do justice for a lot of our products."
Although Lutron has tripled the floor space by moving from the first floor to the third, The Upper Eastside locale feels intentionally compact to reflect a typical New York apartment. The layout has a natural flow that brings people through an office space, into a living room, past a bedroom, and ends in at a bathroom. And what it lacks in space it makes up in technology.
Each room is equipped with Palladiom lighting wallstations, a handful of independent keypads, and nearly 70 controlled shades were installed. The rooms are draped in an otherwise white and gold aesthetic, tastefully capturing an affluent feel. And although that feeling was lost on this particular opening day - as lights were transitioning and dimming, shades opening and closing - it became totally acceptable considering the room of integrators and designers actively touching and demoing every switch.
And that's exactly what Lutron wants. Products like the Palladiom switches are made-to-order and function just as good as they look. They invite users to interact with them in a totally intuitive way. There are so many positive takeaways from the showroom, underscoring that Lutron really can talk the talk for designers and dealers alike. Being able to hand-craft an experience center is one thing, but to give it life and purpose is another feat in itself. Sonos speakers were dotted around the different spaces and a media room equipped with a flatscreen TV further compliment the technology roots that Lutron strives to maintain.
"The space is meant to replicate the home," Smith said. "Integrators are able to quickly show off different aspects of what they can offer in each room, and we understand that you can add different elements without taking away from Lutron being the star."
Ketra Integration Offers Big Results
The Lutron experience center is also starting to see a lot of payoff from the Ketra acquisition earlier this year. A few of the installed lighting fixtures featured Ketra solutions and were just as easily controlled as the other fixtures in the room. And although lighting has become a big opportunity for a lot of dealers, buying groups, and generally for the industry at large, correctly managing it has become a huge headache.
A lot of that issue comes from general education and compatibility. Many lights aren't equipped to fully dim, and that can become a problem if dealers or companies are advertising full dimming capabilities. Ketra also introduces a circadian rhythm technology, or the ability to change lighting shade to more naturally reflect a sun cycle. Technology like this becomes a huge table stake for dealers as they look to court affluent homes and business with new solutions, but it takes a lot of accreditation to begin installing these systems.
But Lutron is not passive in this matter. In fact, their training systems in place are actively educating their dealers and qualifying them to use Ketra systems - but only when they are ready.
"Circadian rhythm lights are one of the most important inventions in the last decade," says Lutron dealer and OneButton Founder Matt Emmi. "We're moving into it as aggressively as we can, which means we need to get into fixtures as we typically don't sell them - we only control them. We lean on companies like Lutron to help us with these decisions as our business shifts."
And Smith sees that as well with Lutron dealers. He notes that not all Lutron dealers will be Ketra dealers, but the ones who do will be pleasantly surprised at how serious the company is in helping them hit their goals.
"It's all about confidence in our control system," Smith said. "We want to offer a full system for dealers that starts with the switch and ends with the fixture. Lutron is not trying to be a lighting company and we never will be one. However, what we will offer is a top class control experience for all our dealer's needs."