Integrated lighting design servies…a threat?
Shanghai 13th June 2010
A trend is emerging in which main consultant practices such as interior designers, architects, landscape and electrical consultants are offering professional lighting design as an integrated part of their core services. It has nearly always existed as part of electrical consultants which we have sort of accepted, though not with great joy as most of the time they provide unfair competition by lumping their lighting design service as a package deal with electrical. But now we see the same thing happening with interior designers, architects and landscape consultants and even specialist engineers like façade and curtain-wall consultants who are starting to include lighting design as part of their services. Should we be worried, should we feel threatened or should we join the trend and offer additional services ourselves?
In a similar development in the interior design world we saw the emergence of companies like Super Potato, specialist in themed restaurant interior design, developing themselves in extremely successful niche designers and taking business away from established interior design firms. Now we see these interior design firms fighting back by creating their own in-house specialist restaurant division, some even as a separate entity all together. Obviously they can see that extended further with “in-house” art work, signage and lighting design services. Likewise we also see architects creating interior design divisions and the like.
So where is this leading? Is there still room for the independent lighting design consultancy? Already we were under threat by lighting suppliers providing “free-of-charge” lighting design services, will this new trend of integrated in-house lighting design services become a threat or even spell the end for the independent profession as we know it. You can argue that the integrated services are still independent, true, but to me they do not compete on equal footing and hence seem to be a threat to the lighting designers who operate individually. A bit like the supermarkets versus the small local shop on the corner.
So, should we embrace this and look at expending ourselves through strategic alliances and start our own little supermarket, or just ignore it and keep going? Time will tell…..