Taking on its own remodeling, BDA Lighting Group matches professionalism with playfulness

Lighting ‘lab’ showcases new products and technologies, while creating space for collaboration
BDA Lighting
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by BDA Lighting Group and originally appeared in the 2021 edition of Best Offices Ottawa. Read the full publication here.

A leader in its industry, Nepean-based BDA Lighting Group has more than 30 years of experience creating innovative lighting solutions.

With many years of construction experience, combined with a passion for design and architecture, it is no surprise the company took matters into its own hands when it came to remodeling its own office.

The agency took over its offices from an existing company in the ’90s, inheriting 3,200 square feet of pink and green walls.

“It was really dated,” recalls Jean-Simon Danis, one of BDA’s principals and co-owners.

By 2017, the team – now triple its original size – was ready for a change.

BDA

“We started doing renovations,” Danis says. “A couple of years later, a space became available next door, so we added another 2,000 square feet.”

Today, BDA’s office features sophisticated white palettes with bursts of yellow wood-covered beams and bespoke art – all encapsulated in glass walls, keeping the space bright and airy.

Befitting the home of one of the region’s leading lighting design assist solutions firms, BDA’s office is also creatively illuminated, showcasing the possibilities that come from combining the latest lighting and controls technology with expert design insights.

“Everybody wants to come back to the office.”

Out with the old

The renovations were carried out in two phases.

“The initial construction had a lot of walls, so we had to break everything down to open it back up,” says François Bertrand, a principal and co-owner at BDA. That was part of the first phase.  

The next phase focused on the newly acquired second storey, which BDA turned into a learning centre where they could showcase lighting products and new technologies.

“We wanted to create a lab/collaborative space where we can bring clients in, host events, and also use as a large boardroom,” he says. 

BDA motorbikeOverall, BDA’s interior design matches contemporary styles with its teams’ playful personality. When clients enter the new space, they’re first met with a bright lobby, where colour-changing light fixtures illuminate different art canvases, each one depicting a technical drawing

Bertrand spontaneously commissioned the art after seeing an industrial designer sketching by hand.

“I wanted something really rough, so it’s showing the thinking process behind some crazy new idea,” he explains. 

Beneath the lobby’s wood-covered atrium is a waiting area, decorated with potted trees and dark leather furniture. Embracing the eccentric, the firm added a red retro motorbike in one corner of the room.

“It’s different – people don’t usually have that in interior spaces,” Bertrand says.

Dynamic workspace 

In the main workspace, clusters of ergonomic desks give BDA’s team the chance to stretch their legs while reviewing design plans. To the left is BDA’s quotation department, and to the right, the project managers’ offices, separated by glass to maximize workflow in both departments.

bda

Custom lighting adds a textured look throughout, with wall washing and grazing – a technique that positions lighting closely to the wall, so the optics create different shadows. Offices for Bertrand and Danis are on the second floor, next to the learning centre.

“It’s much easier (when) we’re sitting down with an architect or contractor or engineer, and we can bring out samples,” Bertrand says. 

A large, wooden barn door allows BDA to seclude the centre during events.

“It’s a two-section panel on industrial tracks,” Bertrand says. “That was a tough challenge because we were thinking about different roll-up doors and how to separate (the space).” 

But the design paid off – the door adds a rustic feel, complementing the reclaimed wood floor, as well as creating privacy when needed.

Rising to the challenge 

For BDA, taking on their own renovations – including the addition of top-tier smart technology, letting the team control everything from light to sound – was no small feat.

“It was quite a bit of coordination,” Bertrand says. “Doing all that while growing a business was a great learning curve for us.”

The new space had been long anticipated by BDA’s team, but with COVID-19 safety measures, many were working from home.

“Everybody wants to come back to the office, the team is motivated and has that social camaraderie,” Bertrand says.  And if that’s not a sign of a great office, then what is?

BDA

Lighting insights

Lighting is one of the most important aspects to any office. A well-lit space contributes to employee well-being by creating a comforting and stimulating atmosphere that increases productivity while reducing fatigue. Plus, the latest lighting technology saves energy – and money.

Despite the growing appreciation for the benefits of good lighting, it’s something that’s easily overlooked during the design process.

BDA works with space users and their designers, providing lighting calculations, specifications, controls strategies and design guidelines, building up a reputation for adopting a client-centric approach. BDA’s mission is to accompany customers in the search for global, innovative and environmentally friendly solutions.

“BDA really helps us in providing design assistance, providing specifications for different lighting solutions,” says industry partner Chantal Boyer-Casey, principal of design firm 4té Inc. “They have the technical knowledge to help advance our design solutions.”

Others in the sector highlight the vastness of BDA’s product selection.

“We have yet to encounter a project that they can’t come up with a solution for – be it a residential project, commercial, industrial or healthcare,” says Andre Drouin, principal of design firm Smith + Andersen.