Event Unites, Expands Build Team

Responding to the increasing popularity and demand for home technology products and systems, the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association is launching its first Electronic Lifestyles Forum Feb. 23-25 in San Francisco. The new event will facilitate close working relationships between builders, architects and interior designers to improve profits and success.

t’s high time the CEDIA member engage in dialogue with the architect, interior designer and builder, to unite toward the common goal of elated clients, and successful projects that earn acclaim," says Utz Baldwin, chairman of the forum committee, and president, AD Systems in Houston. He also serves on the CEDIA board of directors, and is chair of the industry events and outreach council.

"We’re all working together for the same client, and we all want smooth-running jobs that make profit, so it’s time to bring these four parties together to open dialogue as to how we think technology affects our customers’ lifestyles today and in the future, and how we can better work together," Baldwin says.

"Our industry partners want to feel confident speaking to clients. The design community does not care how these technologies work; they want to know what they offer, what to consider when communicating with clients and when to bring a CEDIA member into their process. It’s not about the box; it’s how the box can affect our lifestyle in terms of comfort, security and providing information," Baldwin says.

Focus on education

The EL Forum’s three-day program includes educational sessions, keynote speakers, networking events and more. Highlights include day one’s keynote speaker Nicholas Negroponte, one of the foremost futurists on the international scene, founding chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s media lab, and a founder of Wired magazine. Negroponte was the first to predict how digitalization would affect every aspect of the world.

Day two begins with an expert panel discussion on ergonomics and anthropology, which will explore the future of home building, residential space, family life and how technology will play a role in our future. The panel will address how homes will interact with individuals, products and communities.

Educational session topics throughout the event include: A/V control systems for residential properties; elegant solutions for distributing multichannel sound; constructing quiet rooms; the fully integrated home; how to design media rooms and home theaters; understanding the interior design process and the CEDIA member’s role; introduction to residential lighting control; and advanced residential lighting control. Several accredited sessions will be offered as well.

The educational portion of day two ends with the second panel discussion on working with technology together to ensure positive outcomes. This panel will investigate the differences and similarities in processes, obstacles that can detract from success, and methods to increase communications and productivity between builders, architects, interior designers and electronic integrators.

The keynote speaker for day three is William McDonough, an accomplished architect and designer who has won several national design awards, including several presidential awards. McDonough is a leader in the sustainable development movement, and Time magazine recognized him as hero for the planet. A home tour also is planned on day three, with limited seating. Homes visited will demonstrate design qualities and how technology blends with it.

CEDIA has developed a train-the-trainer outreach program through which full CEDIA members can provide continuing education to their local partnering architects, home builders and interior designers. "You can get yourself placed on calendars, you can offer credits, develop lunch-and-learn programs, and have a huge impact on your business. Outreach efforts like this are the reason my business is growing so much," Baldwin says.

"Many builders still think home technology is a necessary evil and don’t realize it can be a profit center as well. Our hope is to get the building team partners together and invoke some creative thinking, open dialogue as to what works, what doesn’t, and then to compare processes — not about technology, but rather, about how we can work together," he says.

CEDIA plans to hold the Electronic Lifestyles Forum more than once each year, in different parts of the country, to deliver education regionally. No product expo will be held in conjunction with the EL Forum. For more information and to register, visit www.cedia.net/el_forum or contact CEDIA by calling 800-669-5329.