Demo Derby
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Seattle’s Alexander Lighting
A stunning addition to the entryway of Seattle’s Alexander Lighting, this art glass waterfall installation by Nancy Mee is made all the more dramatic with track and spot illumination. Alexander’s designers use this and other creative in-showroom lighting solutions to demonstrate the full range of their capabilities.

Selling a concept—like the soft glow that can emanate from a well-lit cove or the ethereal effect of a winding, outdoor stairwell illuminated at dusk by hidden step lights—can be a difficult proposition. Customers looking at a rather unattractive track head may be hard pressed to imagine its full potential, so when it comes to architectural lighting, a showroom itself is often a designer’s most valuable selling tool.

Bill Frisella, owner of St. Louis-based, ARTS Award-winning Metro Lighting, certainly believes so. When designing Metro’s new facility, which opened last year, his team treated every on-site lighting installation like an in-store vignette. From the color-changing LEDs illuminating the sign out front to the back offices’ state-of-the-art commercial lighting provided by Cooper Lighting—semi-recessed downlights in the corridors, linear cove lighting in the meeting rooms and art display fixtures highlighting works hanging on the walls—Frisella says his “entire facility, even the functional parts, is a showroom.”

Also a past ARTS Award winner, Seattle’s Alexander Lighting takes a more artistic (though just as practical) approach, wowing customers with its architectural design capabilities the moment they walk in the door: The company’s 24-foot slate atrium’s main feature is a slumped glass waterfall by area artist, Nancy Mee. Each glass piece in the installation is backlit with hidden spots and illuminated from above and below with track and flood systems from Alexander’s North Coast Electric division. What’s more, Group Manager John Carver says, “We have in excess of 2,750 lighting fixtures on display in the showroom that are showcased on architecturally designed displays—massive exposed beams, galvanized ductwork and conduit runs.”

Illuminating all of this without interfering with the more decorative pieces on display is not easy. “The rough edges of the showroom shell are complimented by the clean, elegant lines of the displays and the lighting highlighting them,” Carver says.

Showrooms with no plans for building new facilities and no funds for remodeling can still get in on the demonstration game. SL Bagby, a lighting design firm based in Charlotte, NC, does have an ample demonstration area and lighting prototypes installed throughout its facility, but the Bagby team also showcases its architectural lighting services with actual and virtual tours of their project portfolio. What better example of their architectural application expertise than the nearby headquarters of Clark Nexen Architectural Office?

“The lighting products used in [architectural] environments are as varied as the spaces themselves,” says Trey Adams, in-house lighting designer and architectural consultant for Bagby. Concrete examples of your own showroom’s capabilities not only provide a visual aid to explain products’ best use; they help illustrate—and sell—your lighting vision.

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