Dennis Burger is a native Alabamian whose passion for AV began sometime before the age of seven, when he dismantled his parents' brand new 25-inch solid-state Zenith console TV and exclaimed--to the amusement of no one except the delivery guy--that it was missing all of its vacuum tubes. He has since contributed to Home Theater Magazine, Wirecutter, Cineluxe, Electronic House, and more. His specialties include high-end audio, home theater receivers, advanced home automation, and video codecs.
Don't bring your Bag of Holding or twenty-sided dice to the D&D Building in Manhattan. I mean, you can, but expect a few strange looks. In this case, "D&D" stands for Decoration & Design, and it's home to showrooms from companies running the gamut from Crestron to Ralph Lauren Home. And as of two weeks ago, it's now home to a newly reimagined Lutron Experience Center and training facility, which gives dealers, designers, and homeowners a comprehensive taste of everything Lutron has to offer, from lighting control and distributed audio integration to climate control and the circadian rhythm lighting of Ketra, a recent Lutron acquisition.
At nearly triple the size of Lutron's previous Experience Center in the same building, the ~5,000 square-foot space manages to feel oddly homey given the luxury of its design and especially its surroundings. When I and a select group of journalists attended the grand opening of the space back at the end of September, I was struck by just how little it feels like a showroom. And that seems entirely by design.
At its center sits a living AV system with in-ceiling speakers, which opens into a bedroom on one side and very relatable living spaces on the others. The effect is really to give you a firm understanding not just of what this technology does, but also what it's like to live with it, in a space you can envision living in. I'll admit, I spent most of my time at the grand opening taking notes on (and inspiration from) the bathroom area, whose bright but warm and inviting lighting is exactly the sort of vibe I'm going for with my current WC remodel and upgrade.
And that's certainly part of the goal, but when I spoke with Matt Emmi, owner of OneButton, he told me that what he as a dealer uses Lutron experience centers of this sort for is just to help homeowners understand the benefit of things like shades and lighting scenese and circadian rhythm lighting in an environment they understand. "You just don't really understand it until you see it," he told me. "It also helps us better understand what the homeowner likes to do, wants to do, and really key in on supporting that experience."
More details from Lutron:
Lutron Electronics, the leader in automated lighting and shading control, is reinforcing its commitment to dealers, contractors, and specifiers with its newly reimagined Experience Center and training facility in the Decoration and Design Building in New York City. Nearly three times the size of Lutron's former New York City space, the new Center will be the destination for Lutron's residential tri-state area customers and international visitors.
"Lutron is making significant investments in business tools and product innovations to ensure the continued success of our customers," said Ed Blair, Executive Vice-President at Lutron. "Lutron's experience centers help you close more jobs by providing your clients a rich, fulfilling experience and authentic understanding of a day in the life with a Lutron system. This new space is nearly three times the size of the previous New York space, giving you additional ways to tell the story and delight your clients in the process."
The new Experience Center features a broad range of Lutron products showcased within residential vignettes. Products include everything from Lutron's Caséta Wireless to HomeWorks QS systems, a full range of Lutron shading solutions, including the luxurious new Palladiom shades, plus samples of shading fabrics and keypad finishes.
The Center also features a variety of Ivalo and Ketra high-performance LED fixtures, which, according to Blair, will be the next business expansion opportunity for dealers. "Dealers wanting to explore LED fixtures as a business expansion opportunity will have plenty of chances to do so in the new space," he said. "Here, Lutron customers can witness the powerful performance of LED fixtures, drivers, and control solutions from our Ivalo Collection - and as a result of our recent acquisition - from Ketra."
Blair said Lutron wants to help facilitate the conversation between the dealer, client and specifier to ensure fixtures are being considered earlier in the design process and from a controls compatibility standpoint.
Lutron opened its first Experience Center in Plantation, Fla. in 2001. The company has since added facilities in Coopersburg, Penn., Irvine, Calif., New York City, Washington, D.C., Toronto and London.
To schedule a visit, please call your local Lutron representative or call (212) 752-1214.