Interview: LED Lighting Rock Stars Cerno
Trends & Events
Cerno is Nick Sheridan, Bret Englander and Dan Wacholder. Cerno is modern, streamlined, technologically superior LED lights for the home, office and business. Cerno is sexy, cool, eco-friendly and totally available for purchase at 2Modern. We gave the boys at Cerno a call to talk about why they chose LED technology to design with, what makes their company so great (hint: each of them brings a perfectly complementary set of stellar skills to the mix) and more.
We’re trying something new with the interviews: less interview, more conversation; less scary silent background more ambient noise from their actual studio. We’ve provided not just a transcript below, but time codes to where certain topics start so you can skip right on ahead to listening to exactly what you want to know. You’ll be hearing from both Bret, who handles a lot of the marketing of Cerno and Nick, the designer, in this conversation. Enjoy! And as always, check out Cerno on 2Modern.
Download an audio file of the interview: Cerno interview with 2Modern
Start – Their back story and how the three came to start this business
Bret Englander: So the three of us have been friends since grade school, and we very much went our separate ways in academia and professionally for a long time. And then after kind of the market doing what it’s been doing for the past three years and us being restless in what we had been doing, we just decided it was time. You have this sort of friendship where all of us have been working together and doing design projects since we were really young and professionally we just knew we wanted to work together and that’s really just how we started.
1:00 – Origin of the name Cerno
BE: Well Cerno, which means to resolve, to sift, to decide, but mostly resolve. So we wanted something with some ambiguity to it in the sense that it’s a name and it’s not going to make you think of anything else unless you’re fluent in Latin. We were playing around with a lot of other Latin, and Italian words and there are just so many other Italian companies. And then Nick came in one day with the logo and the letters – that’s his font, it’s not a standard font – already drawn and the name and we liked the way it looked. And it had a nice ring to it. And it means to resolve, which when he was an architecture student he said that was just such a theme throughout architecture school. The professors saying ‘this needs to be resolved.’ And it’s just such an important part of design.
1:53 – How far they’ve come in just a short time
BE: We’ve done really well at kind of getting a lot of retailers across the country. A year ago we weren’t anywhere. The lighting line had just launched and now, today, we’re in New York, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Miami…
2:10 – Why they decided to start an LED design company
BE: We’d go to these trade shows that were for the lighting industry. And although the market was still dominated 70, 80% by halogens and incandescent, these shows were 90% LED.
2:26 – Nick’s take on choosing LED technology
Nick Sheridan: The LED technology allows you to design lights where the light source can come from a much smaller place and have a better output. The LED’s are really, really small and that really liberates the form and the design parameters when you’re working with them. So not only are they the wave of the future and where things are headed, the light efficiency and the color of the light is the best.
2:58 – More about why LED is so awesome
NS: Yeah the light source is about the size of a dime and the thickness is similar. The big thing to notice is it isn’t an omni-directional light source like a light bulb that puts light out in all directions. It pushes light out in one direction, which lends itself to task and a lot of lighting applications. Right out of the gate it lets you push the light right where you want to more than you can with omni-directional incandescent light. So it’s a very small package and you can harness and control the light in a much more efficient manner, if you are trying to illuminate say a desk. Because inherently just the way the solid state lighting chip has light coming out one direction.
BE: To kind of back track, I think one of the major motivators for us…you’ve got all these pretty inefficient ways of lighting out there, and the LEDs…I mean fluorescents are efficient but halogens and incandescent aren’t nearly…I mean we’re lighting the same amount of space with a 8.3 watt as they were using a 60 watt for it. So there were the inherent environmental qualities of using LEDs as well that were a driving factor for us.
4:20 – What in particular makes their business so great
BE: We’re pretty much 100% vertically integrated. There are a couple of things we outsource locally but the fact that all the designing, all the prototyping, all the production manufacturing, the shipping is coming out of this facility gives us a pretty distinct advantage in the marketplace. Where there’s no disconnect between designer and manufacturer. There’s no disconnect between designer and engineer. Everything is very interconnected and it really shows in the quality of the work. We’re obviously super critics, and every light piece and light source we look at with an attention of detail that most people don’t have, but that also kind of feeds our pride and our mission, which is to deliver extremely high-quality products all made right here in Laguna Beach, in the U.S. Which is an important part of the brand and is visible in the product.
NS: I mean we all talk about what portions of the market we want to fill with our product. But I’m constantly conceiving lamps and different objects and I share that with the guys and we decide out of a large number of them which ones we’re thinking about pursuing for a number of various reasons. And then me and Dan get to talk about how it’s going to be built and what components it’s going to get to be built with, and already at that point I’m using and pulling from the kind of manufacturing techniques we like to use and the components we’ve found to be the best and the brightest. But yeah, because we’re going back and forth all the time there’s no portion that get compromised.
BE: It’s fun to watch the two work together. I mean, there’s an amazing amount of the process that goes without words, which is really interesting to watch. And that’s just a product of them knowing each other so well. What Nick was saying…it’s like two brothers who speak their own language just designing and it’s extremely efficient and I think it shows in the product. There’s really nothing lost in the translation. When you come up with a set of drawings and maybe a lot of the other manufacturers will prototype here and ship it off somewhere, to not have the machines literally under your feet and not be able to work with them…we really have a huge advantage. If we do a limited production run of 10 or 20 units and we see we’re missing something it’s really easy for us to stop the process, refine it and go back and perfect it. So it shows in the work and is unique in the way we’re manufacturing.