Q & A Session with George Gregorian, Lighting Designer
Last year, we began our Lighting Designer showcase by selecting some of our talented customers to answer a few questions about their business and their views on the landscape lighting industry.
For our fourth feature in the series, we asked George Gregorian of Landscape Lighting Concepts to participate in our Lighting Designer Q & A Session.
Landscape Lighting Concepts was founded in the spring of 1988 by George M. Gregorian. While working as a sprinkler system installer, he realized the potential link between the sprinkler industry and the landscape lighting industry. After having installed one lighting system for an existing client, he was hooked.
What first attracted you to landscape lighting?
Back in 1987, I was helping my cousin’s (now ex) husband who owned a lawn sprinkler business. Late in the season, we installed a job where the client had purchased some NIGHTSCAPING products and asked us if we could install it for him. Up until then, I’d never seen any kind of landscape lighting. We read the instructions and figured out how to aim the lights, and voila! As I walked around checking the fixtures, the lightbulb went off in my head (no pun intended).
It was then that I thought of how nice a fit, side-by-side, in a business this landscape lighting would go with the irrigation that we were already installing. That winter, I started my company, Landscape Lighting Concepts.
I would have to say the main thing that sets me apart from other companies is ME. Since day one, (and to this day) I am present on every job. It’s my design, my adjustment, my creativity and my personalty with which I have forged so many relationships with my clients.
Every job we do is custom. I try to make the design best suit the client, the property and the location. Being in this industry for as long as I have, I know the importance of keeping up with all things Landscape Lighting, and being able to provide my clients with the latest and greatest.
What was your most challenging project?
We received a referral from someone out-of-state who knew someone from another state who was having a hard time finding a company to install quality landscape lighting. I agreed to look at the project and we started discussions with the architects and ultimately the property owner. This project was 200 miles away and I had just 2 days to complete it. We brought in all our product, set it all up at my shop, lamped fixtures, attached spikes, and anything else we could do to expedite the project. So off I was on a road trip with my two guys. We stopped only to find a hotel and started working right away. The job went well and the client was happy.
And I have to return when I have some time to do phase two, and possibly the hotel we stayed at as well!
As I stated earlier, I have always tried to stay on top of advances and changes in the industry. Lately, one of the biggest changes in this industry is the use of LED lights. I think I first tried them way back when they were terrible. They had low output, blue /white light and high price for the quality they provided. I then took a break and went for integrated fixtures for about a year.
Once I started seeing some of the advances with drop in technology, like Illumicare, I took the leap back to drop-in replacements and haven’t looked back.
What lighting issues did LEDs solve when you started incorporating the lamps into your designs?
I like the flexibility LEDs give me on existing projects where by switching standard lamps to LEDs opens up more capacity and allows for additions to a system without the need for additional transformers. Also, I want to provide my clients with LEDs to even further enhance the energy saving properties typical of low voltage landscape lighting.
Which past, or present, lighting project truly defines who you are as a lighting designer? And why?
That is hard to say. The best way I can answer that is to say that every job defines me as a lighting designer. I strive to be different. To not have my jobs look anything like my competitors. Whether it’s a project loaded with plastic PAR 36 well lights and path lights, or a project with only one brand of light fixtures.
My methodology is to use whatever I want and need in order to make the lighting signature. I try to use fixtures that elicit responses from my clients. It’s so rewarding when they are amazed at the result and believe that the fixture was made for their exact application. Bottom line, I use the right product for the task, I don’t use the same stuff over and over. And I certainly don’t
design cookie cutter projects.
What do you see as being the future of the lighting industry? Challenges? Opportunities? Threats?
I think the future of the lighting industry is bright (not to sound cliche). The technology and innovation in the LED category is promising, and I look forward to seeing what comes out next. Also, I am continually impressed with the manufacturing of high quality fixtures. This is particularly noted when considering heavy gauge machined fixtures.
I see innovations not only in LED lamps but in LEDs with sophisticated control and dimming systems which will provide my clients with even more functionality, flexibility and choice. To me, the aforementioned aspects of where I think lighting is going, is indicative of the opportunities that are on the horizon.
Over the past 25 years, I have seen the typical landscape lighting client become more sophisticated. The advances in landscape lighting technologies and LED technology will suit this new generation of sophisticated clientele well.
As for any threats, I think all this technology and innovation needs to be well thought out, and well tested, so that the industry doesn’t get ahead of itself. For example, all these new LED fixtures and drop in lamps will continue to change the way we design and install lighting systems. What’s missing, however, is any kind of standardization. Every LED manufacturer has something a little different whereas all the manufacturers of a BAB MR-16, for example, made exactly the same lamps.
What advice would you give other landscape lighting designers and installers about using LED lamps?
When I started using LED lamps, I spent some time learning about the different offerings and educating myself as to the new LED terminology. Additionally, it was important to think about how each LED would work in my design and thus figuring out which company’s lamp to specify.
Buy and try different lamps from different lines and see what you like. See what color temps and what beam spreads you can work with. Beyond the MR16 drop in, there are many specialty lamps available. This is another area where good product line studying is needed to know what is available and then incorporate the LED’s in
Finally, I think it’s important to educate yourself on the implications of LEDs within a system and how that will change how we design and engineer a lighting system. The use of LEDs or doing an all LED system, will result in changes in wiring, wire runs, transformer sizes and maintenance. Using LEDs will reduce the frequency of standard lamp change service calls.
Think about this and figure out how to maintain a revenue stream from your clients.
About Landscape Lighting Concepts
George, the President of Landscape Lighting Concepts, sees landscape lighting as the icing on the cake for most residential and commercial environments. Proper outdoor lighting enhances and beautifies the property, as well as provides safety and security.
Recently, our company was featured in Landscape & Irrigation Magazine where we discussed the aspects of residential and commercial landscape projects and how to design and plan them. In addition, last spring, Home Automation Magazine did a story about Landscape Lighting Concepts and our use of automation control in landscape lighting.