Delivering on a promise to pour serious resources into its UK/European operations, Lutron has officially opened the doors of its new Experience Centre, the first one of its kind outside North America.

A specially invited group of journalists from the UK and France gathered for the official unveiling, which actually began with a tour of one of London’s most iconic buildings, St Pauls Cathedral. Why? Because it has a Lutron system, of course!

Clearly Lutron wanted to underline its heritage and ability to deliver reliable solutions into any environment no matter how demanding or sensitive from an architectural point of view.

CIE would have to say that Lutron definitely managed that; the system that is running all of the interior lights has been in place for over a decade and is still going strong with no plans to upgrade or change, because the tech guys at St Pauls say “it just works”.

This is even more impressive when you consider that some of the system needed to be wireless and Lutron tech managed to deliver that well before wireless control of lighting was becoming more commonplace.

Some of the technical highlights delivered by the installation company responsible – in partnership with Lutron, Speirs and Major Associates – included linking via RF control Lutron GRAFIK Master to a GRAFIK 7000 control processor to overcome St. Paul’s four-feet thick stone walls.

This also reduced cabling and radio frequency interference for broadcasters. The Lutron system controls 250 circuits and the tech team can call on  a simple control interface to access special set scenes for regular events or create bespoke ones for one-off occasions. Stay tuned more more about this impressive project in a forthcoming case study.

Onto the new Experience Centre, which has an enviable address right in the heart of London, close to Finsbury Square and as a consequence easy to access for London’s community of architects and interior designers as well as placing itself in one of most active cities on earth in terms of building works.

Measuring 6,300-square-foot (585m²) the space offers a multi-phase showroom as well as education and conference facilities enabling its GRAFIK Eye, myRoom, Quantum and HomeWorks QS systems to show what they can do.

“Taking care of customers is Lutron’s first company principle. In the US and Canada, Lutron Experience Centres provide our customers with both functional and personal resources that allow them easy access to Lutron products and technologies,” says Sr. vice president Ramin Mehrganpour, noting that Europe is a strategic and growing market for the company. “In addition to serving the European market, the new Centre will also be an invaluable resource for our customers around the globe.”

Focused mostly on the commercial side of things, there is however a residential demonstration space based around a dining room and bedroom set up.

Not surprisingly, the largest space is given over to the booming corporate office space market with a large open space demonstration area to show off the power of intelligent light control, in concert with blind control (over 100 in the whole centre) and light harvesting.

Huddle spaces get a look in too, as Lutron seeks to cater for that market with intelligent occupancy and intuitive automated control at the heart.

To emphasis this point, visitors were encouraged to look out of the window across to office blocks that, although provided with manual blinds to control light, are almost never adjusted as the work day takes up all the staff’s attention.

This is right at the heart of what Lutron is trying to get over to its customers now in that light plays a massive part in productivity; too much or too little light directly affects an office-based work forces’ ability to be at optimum levels.

Lutron hopes to convince its corporate clients that delivering human friendly environments is not an indulgence, but an investment in the company’s future. To underline efficiency, there is also a live digital display showing off the Centre’s energy savings, including real-time variations as light levels are adjusted.

Also emphasised are Lutron’s abilities in the delivery of wireless solutions with its Clear Connect system operating at the less busy 2.4ghz frequency to deliver better reliability.

The company’s intelligent occupancy approach is based on an algorithm that takes into account three principles. The system monitors entry, exit and activity within the space, working out if someone is inside or not. The office part of the space is impressive as Lutron has hit the right note in delivering just enough tech to show the benefits, but not turning it into a space so stuffed full of technology, the message gets lost.

Another huge market for Lutron is the hotel sector, so naturally this area is well catered for within the centre.

Emphasised here are intelligent occupancy abilities to deliver cost savings to hoteliers. Studies show that on average a hotel room is unoccupied for 7o% of the time, so serious saving can be make here with a system like Lutron.

Within the hotel room part of the centre, the emphasis is on ease of use for the staff and the visitor. The window treatments can be pulled and will start manually without damaging the system and other visitor friendly features include an all off function right by the bed.

For the domestic side of things, the emphasis is on style and easy living, creating attractive moods and practical lighting concepts that deliver the functionality users want, but also as you would expect with Lutron a touch of class too.

Sam Woodward is confident the Centre will be a big boost to Lutron’s UK operation

Summing up, David Ribbons, Lutron’s director of sales for Europe and Africa, says: “Lighting and blind controls are experiential products that need to be seen and felt. Visitors to the new Centre can immerse themselves in the transformative experience of watching a room take shape with the press of one button. Clients will leave the Centre with a greater understanding and appreciation for how these controls can enhance the places you work and live.”

So, Lutron has its venue and a very nice one it is too, however this is only half the story; they have built it, but will people come? The design community can be a difficult bunch to engage, however Sam Woodward customer education leader, Europe and Africa for the company was at pains to tell CIE that Lutron is well aware of the challenge and will be doing its upmost to use this impressive new facility to spread the word.

From an integrator’s point of view? CIE has to say that it is well worth a visit and could in particular be a great place to take a client to close a project. The Lutron Experience Centre is now open for business.

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