The Light Review’s Lighting Tree asks lighting designers for their least favourite activity in the creative process of producing lighting design. With eye-rolling regularity, also from your editor, it comes down to drawing-up the specification. It takes an awful lot of creative energy to withstand the grinding task of notating, counting, listing, checking – then checking again – every dot on every drawing.
This is the 21st century; there must be another way. Say hello to Spektd.
John Bullock spoke to Richard Hall and Andy Goodhand, co-founders of Spektd.
JB: Apart from the ridiculous spelling, why Spektd?
RH: Well, Spektd originally came about as a direct response to a group of Lighting Designers who, fed up with mundane, time-consuming & error-prone methods of creating specification documents, approached me asking if I would look into developing a solution that would give them back time so that they could focus on what they really love to do . . designing, not admin.
Coming from a manufacturer background, I wanted to see if this could also be made to work to the advantage of manufacturers; to see if we could bundle in a cost-effective means of increasing the quantity and visibility of manufacturer specifications. The manufacturer-designer relationship is symbiotic and we felt that there was a clear opportunity here to upgrade the effectiveness of their interactions and reduce costs on both sides.
JB: So how does it work?
AG: The mission from the design side was quite clear; to develop a cloud-based platform whereby specifiers of quality lighting equipment could interrogate a product database to identity & compare optimised options quickly, create a project by clicking a few buttons, and finally produce the specification documentation at – you guessed it – the click of a button.
Furthermore, it had to be highly relevant to the unique requirements of Lighting Designers; focused only on the types of product & quality level that they want to specify, with the ability to search and compare at a very granular level; the ability to accommodate modifications to ‘standards’ and include bespoke equipment; and the ability to customise outputted documents in line with the designer’s brand image.
RH: Manufacturers pay a small monthly fee to enter their product data into the database, which they can update at any time themselves. In return, they have their product details in front of the specifier at-the-point-of-specification, and with the site analytics they also know how their products are being specified (or not!).
JB: What sort of reaction have you had from Lighting Designers
RH: A number of high-profile practices have very kindly been testing our beta version and we have been delighted by the feedback. They can quite clearly see its effectiveness in providing time – and cost – savings; some have estimated that time-savings could be in excess of 20% across the practice workload. It has also been strongly noted that the possibilities for creating costly, and potentially litigious, errors from typos or from entering incorrect codes in documents are massively reduced.
Spektd puts Lighting Designers in control of the process, and that control strengthens the project against inappropriate value engineering. There’s more transparency between manufacturers because all data is organised in exactly the same layout, so like-for-like really means that – for once.
AG: I think that the key reasons for the positive response are that we realised early on that we couldn’t do this as a bolt-on to existing specification practices and that, secondly, it had to be a platform for Lighting Designers by Lighting Designers. The Spektd platform has been developed through the knowledge and experience of the lighting design community – and our other co-founder, Ida Moe Hoy, a lighting designer herself, has been central in making sure that we never lost focus on this. So the Spektd process is familiar and different at the same time. The output is a recognisable lighting design specification but the integration of all that detailed information runs deeper than any manual process has ever been capable of producing.
JB: From what you’re saying, the future looks to be one where manufacturers will need to work cooperatively to provide greater transparency on reporting their performance metrics, or risk being picked off as isolated outliers in the specification process. What’s the message for all my Manufacturer friends?
RH: Well, firstly we’re seeing that Lighting Designers are keen to adopt Spektd as a platform and as a manufacturer, I always saw that making my customers’ lives as easy as possible was richly rewarded. Secondly, Spektd is an extremely low-cost (and measurable!) way to get your products in front of lighting designers at the exact moment when they are looking to specify exactly the kind of product that you make. There are companies really trying to push innovative lighting solutions but find it difficult to find their audience in a cost-effective way. We’re not looking to replace personal relationships and conventional marketing activity but we want to provide a supplementary channel that potentially delivers a greater return on those investments.
AG: The insight provided by Spektd is unique. As a manufacturer you can track which of your products are being specified (down to variant level) and our other analytics package provides a collated picture of exactly what designers are searching for; pure gold for product development teams
JB: wrap it up for us, Andy.
AG: We’re being told by designers and manufacturers alike that Spetkd offers a step-change improvement in the way that the industry works. It eliminates wasteful design time, supports true innovation by the manufacturer, and connects specifier with maker. It’s the kind of integrative process that the industry is crying out for. Otherwise, the only hard comparison remains price – that’s a race to the bottom and design quality will go away. And this is only the start. The evolution of the Spektd platform will continue to develop a time-efficient and information-rich specification environment that will take project administration to a whole new level.
Spektd is an independent company, privately funded and free from any constraints that might be imposed by manufacturers or by the growth goals of external investors that may compromise our vision. We’re putting everything on the line to enable the industry to work better and – hopefully – for Spektd to become the back-bone for industry innovation. Our success will only come with the support of the design and manufacturing communities – and we’re looking forward to getting behind them with our support for Good Specification.
You asked for something to describe Spektd? I think the word we’re looking for is Integrity.
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News from one of the design practices testing the Spektd platform:
1. designer discovers a manufacturer that she’d never heard of through the Spektd process
2. She gave up looking for a product on another manufacturer’s website because it was too complicated but found it in seconds on Spektd.
3. So one manufacturer has got a specification out of Spektd and another has avoided losing a spec because of the quality of Spetkd data.
This article is one on the series of Good Lighting pieces for The Light Review.