Modern Design Team dining room

The Critical Nature of the Modern Design Team

Lighting design

The Critical Nature of the Modern Design Team

Preplanning the custom home environment requires a fully experienced design team with magical potions, tools and expertise.

By Glenn Merlin Johnson

Modern Design Team - dining room

ADAPTIVE DESIGN GROUP, INC., has been artistically and technically providing its craft for an exclusive clientele nationally and internationally for over 38 years. We’ve been perfecting our layers of light philosophy with thoughtful user-driven programming methods that specialize in dimming and the picturesque environs of artistic illumination as a highly-skilled technical practice. The simplification of complex systems has been our hallmark since the inception of our firm. Our design process and methodologies are fluid in an ever-changing and ongoing process to best represent the latest in proven technologies available in a logical way our clients can actually decipher.

What’s been most exhilarating throughout my career is to effectively structure teams and provide an exemplary lighting design arrangement that impacts a breadth of style catering to our clientele’s lifestyle with our trademarked process of light, scientific know-how and dimming controls.

"My Modern Design Team logic is the secret sauce for builder and client success, and an extraordinary living experience."Glenn Merlin Johnson, CEO | Adaptive Design Group, Inc.

The only way for success in the Luxury Home Market is with an engaged, educated client who understands the need for a complete design team that commands professional collaboration, particularizes documents that aim to curate their desires, and imposes a budgeted break-down of expenditures with the design-build teams input all before breaking ground. What a novel idea in the approach to any home, eh?

Sure, you can build a home with only half of the design team (an architect and interior designer). Most homes with uninformed clients are completed in this manner. Still, I can guarantee you that the aftermath results in relentless resistance between the owners and the build teams, with elevated job site tension due to partial design, the lack of lighting expertise, and appropriate specifications for electronic controls and technologies that are demanded by sophisticated clientele.


I have witnessed this disconnect and frustration where the once dream home is left for another hire to pick up the pieces. This out-of-date process not only leaves gaping holes in budgets that contribute to the inevitable project delays with additional costly non-factored design and engineering fees, but leaves behind a generic lighting layout with no electronics and control measures in place. No one expresses to the owners that a first-hand orchestrated plan from the architect is solely meant for building permit purposes and is a throw-away document.

Preplanning the custom home environment requires a fully experienced design team with magical potions, tools and expertise. Like a good book or movie, there is always a beginning, middle and end. If the story ended in the middle, the book would never sell, or you would end up frustrated because there was no precise satisfactory conclusion. The plan must match the complete team’s magical visions; it must be buildable and, most importantly, masterfully deliver the dream to the client.

My Modern Design Team logic is the secret sauce for builder and client success, and an extraordinary living experience. As a team setting egos aside we come together to listen to the client’s needs and educate them on the industry’s latest advancements, streamlining the design process to ensure all aspects of the deliverables are met with precision.

CEDIA EXPO in-wall speakers
Colorado Springs smart home gym

here’s my modern design team

SCOPE OF WORK: Floor plans, reflected ceiling plans with treatments called out wood, stone, dry-wall level 5 plaster, sprinkler locations, HVAC, grills and air bars, etc. Exterior elevations with surface details; wood plank, Core 10, stone or stucco call outs and finishes. Window and door specifications, structural and full framing details, floor surface, stone, wood and carpet. Initial furniture and cabinetry block outs. Windows, doors and baseboards are done to specifications.

Experienced artist mixed with functional practicality — the architect is primarily the meeting coordinator between the owners and design team and the site coordination team leader that delivers schematics, design development, and construction documents.

SCOPE OF WORK: Complete to scale furniture layouts, specifications, color palettes, artwork locations, fabric selections, area carpet sizing and selections, final cabinet details, shop drawings and finishes, hardware selection, carpet selections, stone, marble, granite, metal and wood matching approvals. Recommended measurements of decorative lighting fixtures include scale, clearance, spacing and electrical dimming requirements.

Experienced artist and technical coordinator — the interior designer attends all design team meetings to go over schematics, design development and construction documents to facilitate on-site coordination.

SCOPE OF WORK: Client and team education on the lighting design process; philosophy, recessed fixture recommendations, integrated dimming control options, architectural lighting design options, decorative lighting fixtures photometry, and lots of imaging of completed projects relating to the client’s new home. Review with owner and team on fully coordinated professional lighting plans, lighting specifications, integrated dimming control engineering, intuitive lighting keypad designs, and full engraving details, to include lighting, motorized shade and fireplace control functions and full cabinet detail with lighting applications. Collaboration with technology designer on electrical needs, button inclusion for room-to-room audio, and volume controls. Programming of lighting controls, matching lighting design including scenes, pathways, and home and away control functions. Assist the clients with the systems operations and set up of personal App control.

Experienced artist and technical expert — the lighting designer participates in all design team meetings that present schematics, design development, and construction documentation, a lighting designer’s profound role is on-site synchronization between the design team and subcontractors for upload lighting programs; troubleshoot with supplied installing contractor, aim, tune, and final lighting of scene-setting and dimming controls.

Since the professional lighting designer is handling the lighting’s electrical needs; dimming switch floor, wall receptacles, fountains, pumps, and other integrated control devices, it’s best if they continue to provide the balance of the home’s electrical needs. Lighting design and interior design professionals should not supply any lighting products, dimming controls, or shade systems. There needs to be a complete demarcation between the designers and contractors. After all, the architect does not supply lumber, windows or roofing materials. Any other way leads to disappointment, on-site collaborative consequences, rivalry, warranty issues, and lots of finger-pointing.

SCOPE OF WORK: Client and team education on the latest in audio, video, home integration, home automation, voice control, security, monitoring cameras, wired and wireless networks, temperature controls, sports simulators, home theaters, acoustics, material selections, seating selections, motorized window shades specs, treatments and exterior motorized shutters as deemed necessary. All-access controls, water monitoring, pool and spa controls. This also includes full wiring plans and details, equipment locations and electrical power specifications, servers, Wi-Fi router and repeater locations, cyber security protections, surge suppressors, back up battery power, solar coordination, and satellite and internet coordination.

Experienced CEDIA Certified professional — the technology designer is the only member of the Modern Design Team that bridges a design firm and contracting firm. Most provide full team and owner-coordinated design specifications with supply and install due to the complexity, training and certifications over and above the house electrical contractor.


THE ADAPTIVE DESIGN GROUP APPROACH delivers fully coordinated client-approved design with specified and budgeted packages that can be bid out, built and/or executed by the build professional under the design team’s watchful eye.

As far as my own personal style of lighting design, I swear by these words:

“There are two kinds of light: the glow that illuminates and the glare that obscures.”
- James Thurber

In my next article for TD, I will shed light on my ADAPTIVE Method® and the wizardry of Lighting Design.


Eight layers of light to aesthetically enhance each area of space — this is where the MAGIC begins!

Adaptive Design Group