Lighting Designer Dramatically Enlightens Clients

Lighting Designer Dramatically Enlightens Clients

You see, since starting Drago Illumination in September, 2002, Edenbaum has used his background in theatrical and architectural lighting and electrical engineering to educate and enlighten his clients about lighting.

His extensive background serves him well, as he plays many roles in the one-man operation, which offers everything from consultation and concept development to full turnkey design and construction servicess.

This gives him a unique advantage, he suggests. "I believe the traditional hierarchical business structure is ineffective, particularly for specialty consultants. Slow-reacting, large organizational structures can stifle the creative process [for both the client and the designer]. In addition, such organizational structures are expensive to maintain and operate, resulting in excessive costs passed onto the client," he explains.

Being the sole employee of the company has also allowed him to work on a variety of national projects something he is quite comfortable with, having done work all over the world in his previous role as a senior lighting designer.

"As a result of overnight mail and e-mail, geographic area has little impact on what I do," he offers, citing a current consulting job based in San Francisco, CA, as an example.

To that end, the company specializes in residential, retail, exterior and office lighting projects while catering to a broad range of clientele, including home owners, architects, interior designers, engineers, contractors and homeowners all without the benefit of a showroom, he points out.

In fact, Edenbaum works from his home office, a situation "that means I am working almost 24 hours a day and seven days a week," he describes.

Citing his client-centered, full- service business philosophy, he suggests that the only thing broader than his client base is the amount of services he offers.

According to Edenbaum, a unique aspect of his business is that it doesn't simply revolve around a client's design needs, but takes their budgetary concerns into account as well.

"[By starting the business] I wanted to take advantage of the strong demand within the industry for creating high-impact architectural lighting design while delivering dependability, speed and efficiency to the client without the high fees associated with larger design firms," he offers.

Edenbaum cites the company's mission statement, which reads: "Through a commitment to develop, and maintain, a business practice known for being dependable and reliable, Drago Illumination's design philosophy is to be creative and innovative, while remaining practical," which he says sums up his ultimate business goal.

In fact, he adds, "Building a client base which knows me for being true to my mission statement is how I want to be successful."

Seeing the light
According to Edenbaum, his success is the result of one simple equation: Having an informed client equals having a happy client.
"I have found that an educated and informed client is more apt to make a design decision which they will remain happy with at the end of a project," he explains.

To accomplish this, the firm's services include concept development, fixture selection, estimating, design implementation, construction management and operations management for projects of all sizes, he notes.

He adds: "Whether it is a short consultation, or a full turn key design and construction project, my design process includes educating clients about the aspects of good lighting practices."

In addition, Edenbaum suggests that other unique aspects of the firm are its specialty services, which include retrofit projects for modernization and energy cost analyses something increasingly in demand. He explains, "As opposed to just reducing energy at all costs, my approach is to find ways of saving energy while also improving the quality of light."

Furthermore, Edenbaum cites strong communication skills on the part of himself, his clients, and collaborators as a crucial component to a successful design process.

For example, he believes that it is paramount to receive clear design goals and objectives from clients.

In order to accomplish this, he notes that it takes much more than just knowing what a design should look like, how it should make the client feel or what tasks will be performed in a space.

Rather, he suggests asking some key and sometimes sensitive questions in order to unearth vital client information.

"I need to know if a woman shaves in the shower, or if he or she reads a lot in there. All these elements impact the design."

Of course, communicating those design goals and objectives to the design team that he assembles is just as important, Edenbaum believes.

"The level of communication varies depending on who is the [on-site] project lead. The things which are most important for me to know are things like the materials and finishes. If I am not doing construction administration, the contractor needs to know why I picked a specific light to be installed. Otherwise, an unforeseen change during construction could make a mess out of the whole thing," he explains.

He adds: "I find that poor communication is the root of most all design and construction problems and the cause of the poor communication are people more concerned about making money than doing good design or construction. Therefore, it's just as important to listen to have good communication [with all people involved in the project.]"

To that end, Edenbaum also strongly believes that a project's overall success is not determined solely by the finished result.

In fact, that answer is not known for some time after, he suggests.

"I strive to ensure that the project continues to realize its full design intent throughout its life," Edenbaum explains.
Edenbaum concludes that once a project is completed, he still provides full maintenance arrangements, such as periodically revisiting the job, changing burned out lamps or tweaking a light's aim.

Shadows and light
Edenbaum cites two recent projects an older style renovation in New Hope, PA, and a new construction in Bryn Mawr, PA as examples of his design approach.

"For the New Hope home, the use of shadow is more important than the use of light. By contrast, the other is ultra modern. Here we have light coming off the walls and bouncing off the ceiling. There are lights everywhere and we used a lot of different materials and finishes.

"All projects are conducted under my direct supervision," he continues. "When required, networking is utilized to create a team capable of implementing any project. This networking allows the project team to be as large, or as small, as needed to suit the client's needs."

He adds: "More importantly, the project can still be effectively managed and coordinated by one person. Therefore, the client can interface with one person who is responsible for ensuring the projects' timely completion while adhering to the client's budget."
Edenbaum concludes that while only in business for little more than a year, he has retained a public relations specialist and often submits projects for publication in the hope of drawing more clients to the allure of an enlightening design experience.