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Q&A with the Director of Industrial Design for Legrand, North America

Sept. 23, 2014

After very little changes over the past 100 years, light switches are starting to gain some love in the hospitality industry.

When you walk into a hotel room, what’s the first thing you notice? For Phil Prestigomo, director of design for Legrand’s adorne collection, he hopes it’s the light switch.

Growth for new and groundbreaking light switches is being seen in the hospitality sector, where the light switch and outlet is a design detail that enhances guest rooms, bathrooms, and public spaces. The adorne collection is doing just that, installed in AC Hotels by Marriott in Chicago, Kansas City, and New Orleans—all opening this year.

We sat down with Prestigomo to discuss how light switches are changing, as well as Legrand’s newest collection, adorne.

Interiors & Sources: How has the light switch market changed in the past 10 years?

Phil Prestigomo: There has been very little innovation in the market over the last 100 years. The toggle switch was invented in the early 1900s, and the paddle switch was introduced in the 1960s. Until very recently, the light switch has remained more or less utilitarian—it was used to simply turn lights on and off. Homes and commercial applications alike utilized basic builder-grade switches. It’s never really been a design consideration, so manufacturers have really thought about the user experience.

I&S: Legrand has introduced the adorne light switches and outlets. How does adorne meet these changing industry needs?

PP: The adorne collection responds to several needs—among them, an increased attention to the details of a space, as well as how technology is enhancing how we interact with our surroundings. The collection is gaining traction particularly in hospitality applications, as today’s luxe hotel specifier is very cognizant of every detail in the guest room.

The collection introduces a unique square shape to the switch across all of its interfaces. The outlets, too, share this square shape. In addition, the switches are important because they update how we personally interact with the devices. The new interfaces include capacitive touchscreen technology like an iPad on the Touch Switch, and motion sensor technology on the Wave Switch—a simple wave of the hand turns lights on and off.

I&S: From smartphones to tablets, today’s traveler is more connected than ever. How does adorne approach the subject of connectivity?

PP: There are few things worse than all of your devices shutting down when you’re traveling. Your smartphone, tablet, and computer need access to power to start charging. One of the best aspects of the adorne collection is its USB outlets, which offer guests a convenient solution to keep batteries going, letting the user stay connected to do work, stay entertained, or keep in touch with family and friends.

I&S: Light switches are generally not the first thing you noticed in a hotel room. How does adorne bring a noticeable addition to a space?

PP: You’re right—though I might say that turning on your lights is one of the first things you do when you enter the room. To that end, the adorne collection enables a really impressive first impression. Having a level of detail that cares about what the light switches look like communicates to the guest that we’ve really thought about everything, down to the finishing touches.

I&S: Where do you think the future of light switch design is headed?

PP: We believe that the juncture between design and innovation will continue to offer new ways to think about the light switch—what it looks like, and how it will operate. As the market matures, design will become more targeted to individual specific tastes. Materials and finishes will evolve, and you’ll see more options across all price points. Functions will become more diverse and work as a system rather than independent solutions. Switches will become smarter and do more without needed input. This will allow the user to save energy, increase safety, enhance décor, and have greater control over the light in their environment. 

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