Lighting Designer Dramatically Enlightens Clients

by WOHe

Lighting Designer Dramatically Enlightens

ARDMORE, PA Dan Edenbaum’s business philosophy can best be
summarized by a song from the musical Godspell which proclaims:
“You are the light of the world!”

You see, since starting Drago Illumination in September, 2002,
Edenbaum has used his background in theatrical and architectural
lighting and electrical engineering to educate and enlighten his
clients about lighting.

His extensive background serves him well, as he plays many roles
in the one-man operation, which offers everything from consultation
and concept development to full turnkey design and construction

This gives him a unique advantage, he suggests. “I believe the
traditional hierarchical business structure is ineffective,
particularly for specialty consultants. Slow-reacting, large
organizational structures can stifle the creative process [for both
the client and the designer]. In addition, such organizational
structures are expensive to maintain and operate, resulting in
excessive costs passed onto the client,” he explains.

Being the sole employee of the company has also allowed him to
work on a variety of national projects something he is quite
comfortable with, having done work all over the world in his
previous role as a senior lighting designer.

“As a result of overnight mail and e-mail, geographic area has
little impact on what I do,” he offers, citing a current consulting
job based in San Francisco, CA, as an example.

To that end, the company specializes in residential, retail,
exterior and office lighting projects while catering to a broad
range of clientele, including home owners, architects, interior
designers, engineers, contractors and homeowners all without the
benefit of a showroom, he points out.

In fact, Edenbaum works from his home office, a situation “that
means I am working almost 24 hours a day and seven days a week,” he

Citing his client-centered, full- service business philosophy,
he suggests that the only thing broader than his client base is the
amount of services he offers.

According to Edenbaum, a unique aspect of his business is that
it doesn’t simply revolve around a client’s design needs, but takes
their budgetary concerns into account as well.

“[By starting the business] I wanted to take advantage of the
strong demand within the industry for creating high-impact
architectural lighting design while delivering dependability, speed
and efficiency to the client without the high fees associated with
larger design firms,” he offers.

Edenbaum cites the company’s mission statement, which reads:
“Through a commitment to develop, and maintain, a business practice
known for being dependable and reliable, Drago Illumination’s
design philosophy is to be creative and innovative, while remaining
practical,” which he says sums up his ultimate business goal.

In fact, he adds, “Building a client base which knows me for
being true to my mission statement is how I want to be

Seeing the light
According to Edenbaum, his
success is the result of one simple equation: Having an informed
client equals having a happy client.
“I have found that an educated and informed client is more apt to
make a design decision which they will remain happy with at the end
of a project,” he explains.

To accomplish this, the firm’s services include concept
development, fixture selection, estimating, design implementation,
construction management and operations management for projects of
all sizes, he notes.

He adds: “Whether it is a short consultation, or a full turn key
design and construction project, my design process includes
educating clients about the aspects of good lighting

In addition, Edenbaum suggests that other unique aspects of the
firm are its specialty services, which include retrofit projects
for modernization and energy cost analyses something increasingly
in demand. He explains, “As opposed to just reducing energy at all
costs, my approach is to find ways of saving energy while also
improving the quality of light.”

Furthermore, Edenbaum cites strong communication skills on the
part of himself, his clients, and collaborators as a crucial
component to a successful design process.

For example, he believes that it is paramount to receive clear
design goals and objectives from clients.

In order to accomplish this, he notes that it takes much more
than just knowing what a design should look like, how it should
make the client feel or what tasks will be performed in a

Rather, he suggests asking some key and sometimes sensitive
questions in order to unearth vital client information.

“I need to know if a woman shaves in the shower, or if he or she
reads a lot in there. All these elements impact the design.”

Of course, communicating those design goals and objectives to
the design team that he assembles is just as important, Edenbaum

“The level of communication varies depending on who is the
[on-site] project lead. The things which are most important for me
to know are things like the materials and finishes. If I am not
doing construction administration, the contractor needs to know why
I picked a specific light to be installed. Otherwise, an unforeseen
change during construction could make a mess out of the whole
thing,” he explains.

He adds: “I find that poor communication is the root of most all
design and construction problems and the cause of the poor
communication are people more concerned about making money than
doing good design or construction. Therefore, it’s just as
important to listen to have good communication [with all people
involved in the project.]”

To that end, Edenbaum also strongly believes that a project’s
overall success is not determined solely by the finished

In fact, that answer is not known for some time after, he

“I strive to ensure that the project continues to realize its
full design intent throughout its life,” Edenbaum explains.
Edenbaum concludes that once a project is completed, he still
provides full maintenance arrangements, such as periodically
revisiting the job, changing burned out lamps or tweaking a light’s

Shadows and light
Edenbaum cites two recent
projects an older style renovation in New Hope, PA, and a new
construction in Bryn Mawr, PA as examples of his design

“For the New Hope home, the use of shadow is more important than
the use of light. By contrast, the other is ultra modern. Here we
have light coming off the walls and bouncing off the ceiling. There
are lights everywhere and we used a lot of different materials and

“All projects are conducted under my direct supervision,” he
continues. “When required, networking is utilized to create a team
capable of implementing any project. This networking allows the
project team to be as large, or as small, as needed to suit the
client’s needs.”

He adds: “More importantly, the project can still be effectively
managed and coordinated by one person. Therefore, the client can
interface with one person who is responsible for ensuring the
projects’ timely completion while adhering to the client’s
Edenbaum concludes that while only in business for little more than
a year, he has retained a public relations specialist and often
submits projects for publication in the hope of drawing more
clients to the allure of an enlightening design experience.

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