On September 8 at CEDIA Expo in Denver, CO, a group of esteemed women in the integrator and design industry sat down with Connected Design Group Publisher Tony Monteleone to discuss how professionals in the design-build sphere can work together to create an experience for clients from the perspective of an integrator, a designer, and a company business director. 

The Panelists:

Toni Sabatino, Designer and owner of Toni Sabatino Style

Amanda Wildman, Owner of TruMedia, an integrator and designer

JoAnn Arcenal, Director of Business Development at Crestron Electronics, Inc.

The consensus along the panel was that more designers appeared to feel comfortable attending and walking the Expo floor. When discussing how to build bridges between designers and integrators for a project or for a series of ongoing projects, all three women emphasized that communication between them is essential. 

Communication and Collaboration for Success

Often, designers and integrators have to work together for years or months, so CEDIA is an excellent opportunity for designers and integrators to develop relationships and plans for future projects. Projects can last years, and a healthy relationship between a designer and integrator can make a huge difference in the overall success of a project. The group also agreed that when designers and integrators work together, the process will save professionals time and money because steps are not being duplicated. As a result, budgets can be more flexible. It also offers the client one avenue to voice opinions rather than talking to two entirely separate entities. 

Event Monitored by Tony Monteleone, Group Publisher

Amanda Wildman, an experienced integrator and designer, commented that to appeal to designers, retailers and manufacturers need to focus less on numbers and specs when pitching a product to designers and more on how it looks and feels and how it will impact consumers. To keep products fresh and accessible for designers, companies must create experiences. In doing so, designers can picture where the product fits into a vision that will make for a successful project. 

As a designer, Toni Sabatino emphasized that a product’s feel, look and design carries far more weight than manufacturers and companies may realize. When she is walking the floor, she is not looking at specs, but rather how a product will fit into her vision. A designer will advocate for products they can see and feel, so the community needs to start encouraging designers to attend shows like CEDIA Expo. At the shows, designers can physically see new products and innovations, and they can picture these products in their designs.

When designers and integrators work together, not only does a home seem more cohesive, but it also may offer a more diverse building budget. But ultimately, when designing a project, Sabatino iterates that the client is her primary focus. A designer knows the client’s wants and needs; an integrator can make them happen.  

JoAnn Arcenal works with both integrators and designers as an executive at Crestron. When asked what she deemed most important to industry growth, she said she thoroughly believes educating all responsible parties is the key to success. She appreciates how CEDIA Expo has renewed its dedication to include the design build community, and mentions that panel discussions like this can open up the conversation between technology and design to foster collaboration as the two worlds collide. 

Key Takeaways

Education for designers, integrators, manufacturers, and retailers is the ideal path forward to stimulate innovation on all sides. By bringing a more diverse crowd to the CEDIA Expo each year, there will be more growth, more innovation, and more collaboration. Because when designers and integrators value each other, the client wins.