Integrating Lighting into Specialty Ceilings

Product bidding, sourcing, and timing to the job site are also more easily co-ordinated when working with one manufacturer. Concerns facing the contractor community include sorting out which contractor bids on what product and limited flexibility to substitute products when such an integrated system is specified.


Lighting design for an architectural project has traditionally happened after the ceiling is specified. As specialty ceilings have gained more market traction and ceiling designs have become more complex in nature, significant benefits can be derived from a more collaborative, interdependent design approach. This approach can be accomplished most effectively through working with a single manufacturer, as the individual lighting and ceiling components can be parameterized in a way to ensure relatively quick, seamless designs and avoid negative effects of iterative, downstream design changes.

Parametric design platforms can help automate and streamline the design and production processes. Collaboration across specifiers, namely lighting designers, interior architects, acousticians, and interior designers will ensure the appropriate balance of acoustics, lighting, esthetic, and budgetary requirements. Splitting the bidding and installation across the appropriate ceiling and electrical contractors, with products appropriately cross-referenced in Divisions 09 and 26, will lead to less friction downstream. The result of scalable, unique, heterogenous designs which accommodate both ceiling and lighting elements is well worth the effort and shift in how one approaches integrated systems in the future.


Star Davis is a creative and analytical designer focused on carbon-cutting, intelligent, innovative solutions for the constructed environment. She is currently vice president of innovation and product development at Focal Point and previous worked as an adjunct lecturer at Parson School of Design. She was formerly global head of lighting for WeWork and consultant at Arup NY.

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