Keeping It Real: With Design + Tech – NKBA


Keeping It Real: With Design + Tech

Angela Rath, NKBA National Business Development Manager, with panelist Amanda Wildman, Owner, TruMedia, in the “Keeping It Real” session at NKBA’s Design + Tech Summit on July 25 at the Samsung 837 Building. Photo by Jeff Siegel, The Mad Photographer
NKBA spoke with Amanda Wildman, Owner, TruMedia at the Design + Tech conference about her experiences as a tech integrator.
By Elisa Fernández-Arias

Last week, NKBA hosted its second Design + Tech Summit, in partnership with Samsung, at the brand’s experience store, with a main focus on how designers and tech integrators can work together to improve design with the use of home technology. The four-hour conference was held in Samsung 837’s immersive theater, with Summit presentations displayed on the three-story tall screen. The conference included five conference sessions, and was kicked off with the session “Keeping It Real.”

A Conversation With Amanda Wildman

Moderated by Angela Rath, National Business Manager, NKBA, and featuring Amanda Wildman, Owner of TruMedia, this session focused on the realities of working through the technology and design partnership to create amazing results that elevate any project. At the end of the session, attendees were able to participate by taking part in a Q&A.

The conversation began with Wildman talking about how the tech integration industry is changing. “I am proud to be [a woman in our industry],” she said, “and we are seeing more and more every single day.”

Lessons Learned

Wildman also said that, by being a woman in the industry, she was able to bridge the gap between designers and those in her industry. She also said that being a woman was part of what helped her see what homeowners needed when it came to technology in their homes. Instead of one spouse having more knowledge about technology than the other, she wanted to run a company where she could hand over technology to the homeowner, making it easier for them to use the technology, which would in turn cause fewer issues at home. So Wildman, in her business, started setting up a private homeowner handover to the woman of the house.

The result? Wildman learned that the way women used technology was far different from men, which challenged her and helped her grow. She provided the audience with examples, such as softening lighting in a space or installing dimmable nightlights in a kid’s room, of what these clients were asking for.

Tips for Designers

Wildman also provided tips on how to serve clients best that she uses herself. She said that she starts off each project with a checklist of questions, such as “How are you going to use your space?” “How are you going to use your home?” “And how do we make that successful?”

One big focus was the importance of bringing a tech integrator early into the design process. “When I get brought in early,” she said, “we’re doing everything from the pre-wire infrastructure all the way through to the installation.” She said bringing the integrator in early makes it possible to catch mistakes before they happen — and it also leads to a more harmonious relationship between the integrator and designer.

She also stressed the importance of good relationships between designers and integrators.  Wildman described an integrator as a “mini-GC,” and recommended that designers “date” their integrators. She explained that it’s not about finding an integrator, fast, but to get started by looking for integrators in their area with the right resources, such as the CEDIA and HTA websites. The next step is to check them out on social media, to get an idea about their projects. Many integrators will be willing to do a Lunch and Learn at designers’ offices, where they’ll give a presentation on their work. Wildman also said that it was important for designers to work with integrators whose personalities matched with theirs.

“When you marry those two pieces together of…design and technology, with a proper plan, every client is gonna be the one that’s going to win,” Wildman said. “We don’t want it to be a power struggle…It should be a true partnership. And you’re going to get that through dating your integrator, [getting] to know them.”

The Future of Tech and Design

Wildman said that technology is no longer going to come in boxes, such as banks of light switches, like it used to — instead, technology is going to be worked into the design itself, so that it perfectly fits into the space. While this can look beautiful, it can be challenging for a homeowner to understand how to create such a space, and a designer without tech knowledge may be able to envision it, but not necessarily make it a reality.

This, Wildman said, is where the partnership between designers and tech integrators is going to be key. And it will be absolutely necessary, because clients are no longer going to accept technology in the home not working, or settle for having wires or boxes all over their home. They will demand high design with their technology, which can already be seen with tech companies hiring designers to design their products. “I think that’s what people really, really want,” said Wildman.

To view the NKBA Design + Tech Summit “Keeping it Real” session, moderated by Angela Rath, National Business Manager, NKBA, and featuring Amanda Wildman, Owner of TruMedia, go here.