Q & A Session with Tanek Hood, Lighting Designer
In May, we began our Lighting Designer showcase by selecting some of our talented customers to answer a few questions about their craft.
For our second feature in the series, we asked Tanek Hood of Reynolds Landscaping on LBI to participate in our Lighting Designer Q & A Session.
At Reynolds Landscaping, Tanek specializes in architectural, commercial, outdoor dining area, dock, specialty, and landscape lighting. Tanek’s lighting designs have earned him an honorable mention from the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals (AOLP) in February 2012.
What first attracted you to landscape lighting?
I guess it started with photography. I learned to appreciate the contrast between light and darkness. Before meeting my wife, Katie Hood (Reynolds), I worked for a photographer managing his studio in Central NJ. Most of my jobs have been in construction or photography, so there was a knowledge of materials and fabrication, plus the add-on of the true appreciation of light. When I married into Reynolds, they had a lighting division. With some gentle nudges from Bill Locklin, I became a great salesman – and then eventually a great lighting designer.
I had hopes of becoming a photographer, but the aspects of lighting filled that creative need in a similar way. That was 8 years ago. The piece that still attracts me to lighting is the ability to transform the client and the space. The knowledge that I hold the power of positive change in a client’s life is what keeps me out into the night. The ability to transform a person’s relationship with something in a strong, positive, but most important – in an unexpected way. Every client tells me that they did not expect lighting to be what it is for them.
What sets you apart from other landscape lighting companies?
4 key pieces: Technology, design-build firm, my clients, and my team…. we use our approach to team work and creativity to deliver a better finished product. I have worked for 3 years creating a great team that understands the gardens, structures, and sites as well as – and sometimes better – than myself. Mike Galivin, Vinny Rossi, and Adam Hazely are key players in that team – they implement my designs and vision.
The most dynamic aspect that also sets Reynolds apart from other lighting companies is that we are a design-build firm so we can put lights in places that others would stay away from. My father-in-law and boss, Mark Reynolds, has also given me freedom to create some amazing lighting designs over his work. Because we all work as a team, the finished product is a very clean install with a nice lighting presentation. I also work on an island with great, appreciative clients that have fostered our creativity.
In addition to lighting, we also manage an electrician, use technology to it’s fullest potential, and install lighting control systems to give the lighting “reins” to the client. Long Beach Island has led us to develop many lighting styles and techniques to fit the unique area and improve our skillset, such as dock lighting, underwater lighting (by Coastal Source), and designing for small lots with big homes.
What was your most challenging project?
My most challenging projects usually blend LED and a lighting control system. Since LED is not dimmable for the exterior, I have had to adjust some key pieces in my control systems to mix those two key elements. LED takes away a lot of the challenges of calculating voltage, but our company has decided to design our LED systems to lamp to 20W Halogen. We calculate the voltage to accommodate the larger lamp voltage. It may come to a time where we do not need to do that, but we still feel that some clients may not want LED.
With the state of LED on the national and international stage, I doubt that we will be going back to halogen. I have to account for the next homeowner who changes a bulb without reading the label. That allows a future homeowner to change to halogen in the future if they do not like LED or if they accidentally change all lamps.
My most challenging project was a bayfront home where we designed all the architectural lighting as construction took place. The biggest challenge was creating a system that was energy efficient and controllable. We achieved this by using LEDs and a control system.
Why did you first begin to experiment with LED lights in your designs?
My LED experimentation began in 2009. I began to use MR16 LED lamps in pathlights, washlights, and uplights. As of this year, I am 90% LED installs and 10% halogen. I blend some of my designs, but I rarely sell on the savings and energy conservation. I have been using LED in my downlighting applications for 4 years, as that makes the most sense.
What lighting issues did LEDs solve when you started incorporating the lamps into your designs?
As a designer of deck and down lighting from structures, LED lamps allow my perimeter or string lighting effects to have consistent performance, with less or no outage. We have found that with a line of lights that has one bulb burn out – it is noticed immediately by our clients. If the lamps only burn out from time to time in the landscape, the client will not know. But when a line of lights or rope lighting, LED has become the way to go. I prefer retrofit LED lamps as I can grow with the lamp technology and optics.
What advice would you give other landscape lighting designers and installers about using LED lamps?
My advice would be to not step in full force, but to try LED at your home or a good friend. As you feel comfortable, you will see the benefits are great. My major benefit is that I do not have to “think” so much about voltage drop, yes we consider it but not above 20W per lamp. That freedom allows the lighting designers mind some creativity on large and small projects. I always encourage everyone to sell a good quality lighting system that has energy conservation in mind.
At Reynolds Lighting, we try to stay away from specifics, but educate the client on the state of the industry and what our company is doing to stay on top of every change and evolution with LED. Make sure to choose lamps that you have tested in the fixture you specified – as light output is dramatically affected in more adverse ways with LED.
Experiment, just like when you taught yourself how to use each lamp in the past – the same applies to LED.
About Reynolds Landscaping, LLC
REYNOLDS LANDSCAPING is a family-owned, full service landscape operation in our 30th year designing, installing and maintaining extraordinary landscape environments that thrive in harsh coastal conditions and complement the natural beauty of the seashore.
At REYNOLDS LANDSCAPING we view each client’s property as an open palette. We strive to blend the unique features in both the landscape and built environment to create a cohesive design that is both functional and aesthetic.