Playing Nice

A few A/V and tech professionals give us the low-down on what you should expect from them on your next project.

by AnnMarie Martin

Today, they’re often the most vital elements of a great interior. Unfortunately, they can also be the most difficult to implement.

We’re talking about audio/visual elements (A/V) and other tech-related goodies, all of which grow more sophisticated and complicated by the day. They’re also expected—if not demanded—by most clients, which makes it essential to find the right partners to help integrate those A/V and tech touches into your best laid plans.

We spoke with a few industry-leading consultants to get some insider tips on how to successfully work with tech professionals to create beautifully advanced and user-friendly interior designs. Turns out once we got them talking, we couldn’t get them to stop—a true sign of passion. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.

involve us early
More often than not, the A/V professional is brought onboard too late. “The general rule is when they start thinking about the MEP people, they need to start thinking about the audio and video people, too,” says Guy Savage, a senior field engineer with The Integration Factory—a systems integration firm with more than 150 years of experience in all aspects of low-voltage systems design and installation with a specialization in audio/visual, access control and surveillance systems.

“Everything’s done and then in walks the A/V or IT guys, and then it’s a problem because everything has to be reinvented. We want to be working with them in the beginning,” not after the walls have been drawn and treatments picked out, Savage explains.

Marc Hochlerin, partner with Cerami & Associates, seconds that. “How does ‘before sooner’ sound? Before there is a project!” he jokes. “We are finding that technology is what drives the project. Projects are built around technology, so now more than ever it’s important to enlist an A/V or IT technology consultant as soon as possible.” The best projects incorporate a flexible infrastructure, he says, and are designed to grow with the company rather than just suit them for the first year.

Cerami provides a range of technical services, ranging from acoustics and vibration consultancy to multimedia and security design. Founder Vito Cerami is considered one of the founding fathers of the acoustic engineering field.

ask for certifications
“I’d want to see that the company has capabilities and certifications,” Hochlerin says when putting himself in the shoes of the interior designer. Look for consultants or companies who are Certified Technology Specialists (CTS), which is a certification issued by the international trade association InfoComm. “It’s an ISO 9001 certification, so it’s the real deal,” he adds.

Also look for IT professionals who have a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) certification, which comes from an organization called BICSI®.

Jennifer Davis, vice president of marketing for Planar Systems—a manufacturer with 30 years of experience in the flat panel display business—says interior designers should look for consultants who’ve attended factory training on certain products, which Planar offers. “You should be looking for that level of trustworthiness in that partner for sure.”

Planar Systems’ customers are typically the A/V and tech professionals themselves. They offer a full range of display and digital solutions that range from desktop monitors to large-scale video wall deployments, as well as enhancements that can allow for interactivity.

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