Shopping at Lightology is intended to provide an enjoyable and memorable learning experience. Located on Chicago’s Near North Side, the 20,000-square-foot showroom is designed to wow, from its central three-story atrium to the rooftop deck’s outdoor lighting displayed alongside million-dollar views of the city’s breathtaking skyline. Yet behind the stagecraft is a living lighting classroom. Innovative displays, like the all-white Morpheus Room, help customers better understand and appreciate even the most complicated cutting-edge lighting and controls. As its name hints, this room turns different colors at the touch of a button to envelop engaged customers in a unique experience.
Greg Kay, the showroom's president, talked to Residential Lighting about the future of Lightology:
Residential Lighting: What’s new at your showroom?
Greg Kay, President: We created a very nice Lutron RadioRA™2 display, which demonstrates how the control operates lighting and the Lutron shades and drapes we carry. We might be the only lighting showroom in the country that does this. We created an 8-by-5-foot window with a photo of the Chicago skyline — clouds and all — that’s backlit with wall washers we put on four circuits. As the lights dim, the clouds look like they are moving. The shading system operates from the same wall-mounted controls. There’s a blackout curtain and a translucent curtain, which makes the cityscape glow.
We have a cool theater curtain, which rises from bottom to top. The area is in the back of the store, and I like how the brightness pulls people back there. Ideally, we will do a little video on this.
RL: What do you think your showroom has done right during the downturn?
GK: It’s cruel to say, but we had to lay off people. It is the toughest thing I do. As a businessman, I typically sit down and think of what we could do better, in terms of people, systems, whatever. There is always a bottom, so we did the layoffs slowly. The first 10 percent was easy, then it got a lot harder. It was challenging, but I knew it was best for everyone in the long run.
RL: What do you think your showroom did not do very well during the downturn?
GK: I wish we had done the layoffs earlier. I saw this thing coming, but I did not prepare myself. We could have done more sooner, but you learn a lot trying to do more with less. I don’t think we are any different than most showrooms.
RL: What’s on tap for next year?
GK: I want to focus on LEDs. I plan to do my entire home in LEDs. I’m going to let designers from the store do each room. We want to develop areas in the showroom devoted to LEDs and do more training on the technology; it is such a moving target. Whole-house controls are an area we want to develop more,
so we don’t lose the business to installers who really aren’t lighting designers.