A day in the life of a designer

Posted by kbanks & filed under Employee.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a career in design? Casual Living recently took an up-close-and-personal look at the life of Senior Product Designer James Thomas. And now, we get to reap the benefits of that interview by sharing all the details with you! From his morning routine to sources of inspiration to maintaining work-life balance, enjoy a behind the scenes peek into the life of a designer – and not just any designer – our very own, James Thomas.

How do you get started each morning?

I have always been a morning person, so I start my days early…at 5:30 am. I have a roughly 15 minute exercise routine consisting of push-ups, crunches, leg lifts, and stretches that I do before anything else. After that, I brew a cup of coffee and spend about half an hour reading, writing, or sketching while the rest of my family is sleeping and the house is still and quiet. By 6:15, everyone else in the house is getting up, and we start the daily routine of showering, packing lunches, eating breakfast and all of the other steps involved in preparing for school and work.

What’s your routine as you work through the day?

I am most creative in the mornings, so I like to sketch and work on new designs as soon as I arrive at the office (around 8:00). There is always a temptation to answer email first thing in the morning, but I find that I am much more productive if I focus on new designs first, and then wait until after lunch to respond to emails and follow up on my projects that are in process.

I feel like my best work happens at the drawing table where I can think with a pencil in hand and freely sketch new ideas. I like to keep my drawing table and computer desk separate so that I am not tempted to check email or look up something on the internet while I am in the “flow” of concept sketching. Once I have an idea that I like in the sketch stage, I can scan it and move to the computer for refinement, either quickly in Photoshop or in Rhino (the 3d modeling package that we use) or AutoCAD.  Sometimes I go back and forth with a design… starting with a rough thumbnail sketch, refining the size and proportions a bit in CAD, then printing and sketching by hand more before refining again digitally. As much as I like computer modeling and rendering, I feel like the creative part of my brain is more fully engaged when I am sketching with pencil on paper compared to typing on a keyboard or moving a mouse. If I spend half of my time at work on the board drawing, I leave feeling energized, but if I spend most of the day staring at a screen, I feel mentally drained by late afternoon.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I look for inspiration everywhere. Art, architecture, furniture, fashion, jewelry, nature…really anything can spark an idea for a new design.  You never know when or where ideas will come, so I often carry a sketchbook to quickly capture them before I forget.

I recently saw an interview with filmmaker David Lynch in which he referred to the incomplete ideas that pop into ones head as “beautiful gifts”. I like that analogy, and I feel like the process of concept sketching is the way for me to compile those random fragments of ideas that come from somewhere into new and whole designs.

What’s the timeframe for development?

It varies quite a bit, but I am often working on designs for products that are close to a year away from introduction.  The design process from rough sketch to approved prototype can range from a few weeks to a few months, but after the bulk of my initial design work is complete, it takes time for others to finalize engineering drawings, set pricing, photograph samples for the catalog, and take care of all of the other steps required to get the fixtures in production and ready to ship to customers.

Sometimes, it can be a challenge to design a fashion driven product that won’t be introduced for a year, but that is why it is important for a designer to understand market trends, and have a good idea of where things are going.

Have you been able to balance your time to make room for family and/or hobbies?

Absolutely! I make time for both, and honestly, I don’t think I would be a good designer if I didn’t. If I don’t get enough exercise, or feel unhappy for any reason, the quality of my work definitely suffers. I believe that a designer must draw inspiration from positive personal experiences, so focusing on work all of the time would be counterproductive.

One specific way that I am able to make time for family and hobbies is by combining them. Whether it is hiking with my kids, or mountain biking with my wife, I love to spend quality time outside with my family.

To view the full interview in Casual Living, click here.

Summer Scenes: Creating your dream outdoor living area

Posted by kbanks & filed under Lighting, Outdoor Living.

Outdoor living remodels are booming. According to a recent article in Qualified Remodeler magazine, “the current level of innovation is dramatic” as consumers desire to bring the convenience and leisure elements of their interior areas to the great outdoors. Specialty fireplaces, heaters, televisions, audio equipment and decorative lighting fixtures are hitting the outdoor scene. That same article reported that 76.1% of remodelers are designing, building and specifying decks, 48.6% have a specialized focus on covered structures – and 33.3% are updating accent lighting in their current outdoor remodel projects.

We took a few tips from our friends at Toll Brothers in the arena of dreamy outdoor areas. Have a look at these impressive summer scenes – with an even closer look at how lighting enhances these areas.

Pool Perfection

Say hello to the perfect setting to take a summer dip or host a sparkling patio party. Take note of the meticulous lighting decisions that really make this scene shine – from landscape lights to outdoor recessed fixtures. Even the details of the trees are brought to life with a spot light to add visual interest.

Curb Appeal Mastered

The beautiful landscaping on this home is illuminated with a technique called “shadowing” – achieved with uplighting placed out of sight to create silhouette images of trees, plants, and accessories. The curb appeal is crowned with oversized decorative lanterns.

Raising the “Bar”

Bar seating with a television creates a prime scene to watch the big game and entertain with ease. A dash of whimsical appeal is added by classic wall lanterns from the Progress Lighting Crawford collection.

Enjoy the Breeze

It doesn’t get more dreamy than a lively pool, indulgent outdoor kitchen and enough seating for all your friends to join! This Toll Brothers space is made complete with a ceiling fan to ensure guests are staying cool and comfortable in the summer heat.

What elements make up your dream outdoor living areas?

All images courtesy of Toll Brothers, Inc.

Dallas Market Highlights: New products, a thriving industry event and a philanthropic award

Posted by kbanks & filed under Dallas Market, special events.

From honorary awards to new product tours to a special presentation from the thriving design platform, Houzz – we had a full week at the Dallas International Lighting Market. In case you weren’t able to join in the fun in our showroom, we compiled a short recap of our exciting week in Dallas. Enjoy!

New collections, popular families and excellent customer service were all on display at Dallas Market Center last week.

A close-up of the new Marque collection in our showroom.

A big thanks to the Houzz team for presenting its Houzz and Home Report at our Dallas Market showroom. Our attendees, comprised of lighting distributors, architects, designers and other members of the A&D community took away a vast knowledge of trends focusing on renovation, custom building and decorating for the year to come.

Our team live streamed the Open houzz presentation so that all attendees – no matter where they were in the showroom – could benefit from hearing the trends report from Houzz.  Houzz representative Lauren answered lots of questions after the Open Houzz presentation. Houzz is definitely a platform that resonated with our audience.

Fred was working hard all week long to create a welcoming showroom and showcasing our fixtures in such a beautiful way. We received lots of compliments on the space, in big part to Fred’s efforts!

Additionally, we were honored to have been recognized by Lighting One for philanthropic initiatives at their 2015 Lighting Convention.

Thanks for following along!

Lighting One honors Progress Lighting with 2015 Humanitarian Award

Posted by kbanks & filed under Dallas Market, Progress Lighting, Public Relations, Uncategorized, awards.

Progress Lighting recognized for its contributions to non-profit projects and activities.

Last night Lighting One hosted its 2015 Lighting Convention Awards in Dallas.

During the awards ceremony, Progress Lighting was recognized with Lighting One’s Humanitarian Award – for the manufacturer’s significant contributions in philanthropic initiatives.

Progress Lighting is committed to making the world a better place by participating in events, activities and projects that serve communities across the country.

In addition to our connection with Hubbell Lighting’s Hubbell Foundation, Progress Lighting supports nationally recognized programs that serve our country’s heroes, including Operation Finally Home, Wounded Warriors and Home for our Troops.

We also uses our expertise in the home improvement industry to serve others through the funding of local projects fronted by organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Boy Scouts of America.

Through generous donations and acts of service, our team is proud to promote a culture of giving back. Company employees have followed suit by volunteering with organizations that better the individuals, families and communities where the company conducts business.

For example, associates have dedicated extensive time, energy and resources to support the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, among other local charitable events and initiatives.

We’re honored to receive this award and look forward to continued relationships with our valued partner, Lighting One.

What’s NEW from Progress Lighting

Posted by kbanks & filed under Dallas Market, Interior Design, Lighting, Progress Lighting.

We are excited to be kicking off our week at the Dallas International Lighting Market with a round of new product introductions to better meet the design, efficiency and functional needs of our customers. From authentic decorative fixtures with raw elements to graphic, modern frames with bold styles – our newest products are designed to fit many different preferences and tastes along the design spectrum. Read on to get a peek at some of our favorite June introductions – which is YOUR favorite?

Prosper: A frame inspired by modern graphic design thrives in this collection by providing artful details to enhance visual space. Exquisite handmade, polished seeded glass is etched inside for pleasing illumination. A -20 Antique Bronze finish highlights this full collection of fixtures for interior home design projects.

Alexa – 20: Traditional and modern styles come together in the Alexa collection. Featuring a new -20 Antique Bronze finish, the Alexa family offers a fresh twist to contemporary industrial styling. Etched umber linen finished glass – complemented with a crisp, clear edge accent strip – adds a warm feel to this modern fixture family.

Trestle: Fixtures within the Trestle collection offer a handsome look for industrial or rustic living spaces. Featuring a hand painted cage with geometric elements, pendant and linear options can revive the look over a kitchen island or bar, as well as dining and living spaces.

Ridge: A classically designed fixture family for urban chic environments, Ridge features a clean, yet rustic, modern frame. The open design encases an etched antique watermark glass shade with a tapered square form. Natural lines and an -84 Espresso finish coordinate well with environments featuring warm tones and neutral colors.

Dallas Market News: Join us for an event hosted by Progress Lighting and Houzz

Posted by kbanks & filed under Social Media, special events.

You’re invited to a special event hosted by Progress Lighting and Houzz! Get exclusive insights from 2015 Houzz homeowner surveys, and see a demonstration of new and powerful tools for your business. The event will also lend insight on the latest best practices for maximizing your visibility on Houzz. Plus, enjoy libations and hors d’oeuvres and network with your colleagues at the Progress Lighting showroom.

Spots are filling up fast – RSVP NOW.

Join us for a special event hosted by Progress Lighting and Houzz at the Dallas International Lighting Market


6PM-8PM, Thursday, June 25th

Dallas Market Center

Progress Lighting Showroom TM3840

2100 N Stemmons Fwy

Dallas, TX 75207

Dallas International Lighting Market

Hope to see you in Dallas!

5 new, creative ways to light your dining areas

Posted by kbanks & filed under Interior Design, Lighting Trends, lighting designs, lighting lifestyles.

In an age where the open floor plan and “open-concept kitchen” are top priorities for homeowners, the traditional dining room has evolved. There has been a distinctive shift in the generational culture as dinner guests are more likely to be helping to prepare meals, rather than waiting to be served. This trend has lead many homeowners to prefer multi-purpose eating areas over the traditional dining room. We wouldn’t go as far to say that the traditional dining room is “dead” – but these areas are progressively becoming less formal. As one would expect, dining lighting styles and applications have also followed suit with more casual and creative ways to light multi-purpose dining spaces.

Linear light

A linear pendant is both functional and visually appealing for above dining areas. Progress Lighting's Haven pendant offers a clean and contemporary look - with an on-trend rectangular form.

Singular pendant

A large, bold pendant is a beautiful lighting solution that breathes elegance into formal dining areas - with a modern twist. Swap out your traditional chandelier for a circular-inspired fixture from our Equinox collection.

Pendants in a row

Line classic-styled pendants above your dining table for a clean design. Multiple pendants are great solutions for a long table, to extend illumination to all areas of the room. Progress Lighting Gather lanterns have traditional appeal, but the multiples bring in a new and unexpected design element.

Lantern style

There's nothing quite like a stylish coach lantern to illuminate a kitchen nook or dining table. Beazer Homes masters the transitional kitchen by fusing modern and traditional elements - and topping it off with our Crestwood lantern.

Shaded pendants

Pendants with shades bring forth a classic elegance, but pendants in groups still add in a contemporary feel. Toll Brothers' approach to this dining area spins off a traditional setting, but adds a modern flair with an up-to-date lighting application featuring our Inspire pendants.

Does your home have a traditional dining room? How would you light your dining area?

4 lighting trends that enhance outdoor living

Posted by kbanks & filed under Outdoor Living.

The 2015 Houzz and Home survey reported that three in five Houzz homeowners who renovated in 2014 upgraded  their outdoor spaces or structures (62%). There’s no shortage of data that shows the increasing desire for homeowners to have beautiful exterior areas with high livability. One way to bring your outdoor spaces to life – and extend them over multiple seasons – is to beautifully illuminate the outside of your home.

“As more homeowners view their exterior areas as a key location for entertainment and relaxation, the design, functionality and efficiency of outdoor lighting has taken center stage,” said David Peek, Director of Decorative Product Development for Progress Lighting.

The 2014 New American Home featured highly energy efficient lighting solutions - with many LED designs from Progress Lighting

The 2014 New American Home featured highly energy efficient lighting solutions - with many LED designs from Progress Lighting

See what’s trending in outdoor lighting with insight from our team of lighting design experts:

Dazzling Diodes

As with interior settings, we’re seeing a larger variety of decorative products that are equipped with LED technology. LED sources are a natural fit for outdoor applications, as they are highly efficient with a long life – ideal for areas where lights may be left on for hours at a time. Progress Lighting has unveiled several new LED lanterns, and also redesigned several of our customers’ favorite collections with LED sources.

The popular Brookside collection is now available with an LED source. Regram from @FrecklesChic4 (Progress Lighting customer)

The popular Brookside collection is now available with an LED source. Regram from @FrecklesChic4 (Progress Lighting customer)

Getting Crafty

Hand-crafted materials and styles are high on the list for today’s homeowners – as craftsman design contributes to an authentic appeal for exterior areas. Fixtures with textured glass and rubbed metal finishes are very popular for outdoor applications.

Progress Lighting's Derby lantern enhances the craftsman appeal of the 2015 Coastal Virginia Idea House by Stephen Alexander Homes

Progress Lighting's Derby lantern enhances the craftsman appeal of the 2015 Coastal Virginia Idea House by Stephen Alexander Homes. Derby is now available with an LED source.

Go Big or Go Home

Oversized, decorative fixtures that make a statement are becoming more prevalent – especially for homes with large facades. Homeowners don’t want their outdoor lanterns to get lost when looking at the exterior from the road. Large, bold fixtures can really add to the overall curb appeal of your home – even at a distance.

The new Cadence lantern is available in an extra large size that is more than two feet tall.

The new Cadence lantern is available in an extra large size that is more than two feet tall.

Lantern Love

Lanterns are making their way into both interior and exterior residential design. Offering a classic look and attractive frame, lanterns appeal to a wide range of homeowners – largely due to their ability to match a variety of architectural styles and tastes.

Close up of Progress Lighting's Derby lantern

Close up of Progress Lighting's Derby lantern. Also available in post, hanging and wall mount options.

A Lesson in Recessed Lighting

Posted by kbanks & filed under Homebuilders, remodeling, renovations.

Ideal for use in a variety of home settings, recessed fixtures are high on the list when it comes to versatility in both style and application. Follow these four easy steps to determine which recessed fixtures align best with your design needs and goals.

A lesson in recessed lingting | Image courtesy of Ryland Homes | Ryland.com

Image courtesy of Ryland Homes | Ryland.com

STEP 1: Determine your lighting application

  • General Lighting – These are your uniform  light patterns that are bright and comfortable, ideal for  living and family rooms.
  • Accent, Task & Wall Wash Lighting – Recessed fixtures can be used to accent bookcases and artwork or to accomplish specific tasks on kitchen islands or counter areas. Fixtures can also be used to emphasize vertical surfaces, and draw attention to fireplaces and wall hangings.
  • Wet Locations – Shower trims allow for recessed lighting to be used in wet locations.

STEP 2: Determine trim type and size to achieve the desired lighting effect.

Recessed Lighting Applications

Baffle – Most commonly used trim that effectively minimizes glare.

Open – Offers a streamlined, finished look to your recessed fixtures.

Reflector – Maximizes light output, and is most often used in residential and commercial applications.

Eyeball – Adjustable, directional lighting that is ideal for accent applications.

Lens – Diffuses light and shields lamp. Most commonly used in closets, porches and shower lights.

STEP 3: Determine housing type.

New Construction Housing: For use when access above and below the ceiling is still available.

Remodel Housings:  Easily installed in existing ceilings with little or no access above or below. 

IC Rated Housings: Required in most residential applications. These housings can be covered in insulation to maintain an unbroken barrier. 

Non-IC Housings: Insulation must be kept 3 inches away from all sides of the housing.

Air Tight Housings: Use these housings to minimize airflow between conditioned spaces in a house or unconditioned attic areas. These may be covered in insulation and may be required to meet building energy codes.

STEP 4: Determine housing size.

6” – Most commonly used size, for all lighting applications.

5” – Slightly smaller aperture and reduced lamp options, for all lighting applications.

4” – Smaller aperture. Used mainly for accent, task and wall wash applications.

2” – Smallest aperture. Used mainly for accent, task and wall wash applications.

The 5 most influential lighting trends

Posted by kbanks & filed under Lighting, Lighting Trends.

In today’s most on-trend interior settings, lighting has a key role to play. Whether its serving as a stunning focal point, driving energy savings or setting the mood for a mid-century style comeback – lighting greatly influences the overall design goals of your home. These 5 lighting trends are having the greatest impact on today’s up-to-date residential interiors:

Progress Lighting LED kitchen | Courtesy of The New American Home

Progress Lighting LED kitchen | Courtesy of The New American Home

LED: LED lighting has revolutionized the lighting industry. Once seen as an expensive and unattractive source, LED lighting has transformed into a viable lighting solution that provides long-term energy savings and aesthetically pleasing light output. As LED becomes more mainstream, a wider range of styles has come into play, which now includes traditional designs.

Progress Lighting has introduced a variety of LED fixtures that cater to a broad spectrum of design tastes – from recessed to decorative options. For example, Progress Lighting recently unveiled a new LED Retro Pendant, which features prismatic glass and a clean, simple design that brings a classic appeal to kitchen settings.

Lighting Trend: Industrial influences

Project completed by Masterpiece Design Group

Vintage Electric Design: Fixtures with an industrial flair bring a unique authenticity to residential interiors. Inspired by mid-century design, these fixtures are more masculine than your traditional lighting sources. Key features include mixed metals, knob and strap details, textured glass, Edison bulbs – all of which evoke a spirit of age-old craftsmanship and a warehouse, vintage electric feel.

An example of this style is Progress Lighting’s new Draper collection. With style, charm and intrigue, Draper is all about achieving architectural interest. While polished detailing and tubular forms contribute to an authentic style, the candelabra socket accommodates a variety of decorative bulbs. Popular -20 Antique Bronze and -104 Polished Nickel options finish the pieces.

Lighting Trend: Crystal Accents

Glamour: Elegant fixtures – traditionally found in dining rooms and entryways – are making their way into unexpected areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. Designers and architects are choosing fancier lighting additions, adorned with beads, bobeches and crystals, contributing to the luxurious feel of the space.

Circular spheres by Progress Lighting

Geometric: Geometric fixtures with sharp lines and clean edges are popular among consumers. Typically found in modern interiors, these designs are crossing over to traditional settings, and can be mixed and matched for a clean-lined aesthetic.

Lighting Trend: New metallic finishes | Image courtesy of Kolter Homes

Lighting Trend: New metallic finishes | Image courtesy of Kolter Homes

New metallic finishes: From copper lighting finishes to brass sinks, warm metals are making a run in the residential scene. Shades and tones of copper are growing in popularity, while Brushed Nickel and Antique Bronze continue to appear on Progress Lighting’s best-selling list. Highly reflective surfaces such as Polished Nickel and Polished Chrome are also becoming more prevalent.