“Free” lighting design by others
Australia, 28th February 2010
On my Sunday of reflection I would like to touch on what I call the “other lighting designers”. People who offer lighting design, generally “free”, as part of other services. I am triggered by this because of an advertisement I read in today’s news paper where a real estate company offers a home lighting and consultation package at no extra costs to potential buyers of new to build homes. Home building packages are quite popular in Australia and RE companies are looking to promotional offers to attract more potential buyers. This particular offer includes a lighting plan, all light fittings and energy efficient globes. They go as far as offering a so called “green” switch which will enable you to conveniently switch off all designated lights with a flick of the switch. Do you notice the use of the “green” trend to appeal to the public…add in a bit of social consciousness, it always helps…
We all know lighting design does not come for free…someone has to spend time to do it. But it is a fact of life that it is marketed as “free” as the costs have been integrated somewhere else and while it may look free, you pay for it in other ways. As professional designers this often is a difficult thing to compete with. I remember we were competing on a job with an electrical consultant who was offering the lighting design as well. When asked to break down their actual fee for lighting design it was quoted as a ridiculously low fee (it was about 1/5 of our fees). It was obvious that the real fees where hidden in their overall M&E fees, creating an unfair advantage as we were providing the lighting design services only. The client was blindsided and we lost the job.
We find other “lighting designers” as part of manufacturers, suppliers, interior designers, architects, etc. We may look as a bad looser, but the reality of things is that if the lighting design scope of work is the same, the competing fees should not be that far off.